Responding to Constituents
Members are elected to the House to represent the constituents of their congressional district in the federal government, and to attend to their particular needs. To this end, Representatives and their staff devote individual attention to requests from people of the district.
The number of staff in the House increased significantly after World War II, when demands on Congress grew exponentially, and Representatives became increasingly accessible through more efficient communication. Staff roles can include policy or legal expertise, office management, and the ability to respond to the unique and varied inquiries of constituents. Constituent services became a significant part of congressional staff jobs. Linda Steele, former deputy chief of staff to Representative Bob Michel, described how she helped constituents over the phone.
What do Representatives and their staffers do for constituents? Some services are routine, like required letters of recommendation for applications to the military academies. Other requests are more personal, like help navigating federal bureaucracy or advocacy on a local issue. Representative Helen Bentley described her approach to serving the people of her Maryland district.