Every year, Members of the House and Senate return to their respective districts and states for the month of August to engage constituents at town halls and other community events. Congressional staffers and government affairs professionals alike rejoice during the vote-less four-week stretch that runs from late-July through Labor Day. Many use this time to catch up on missed emails, dense reading material, and required certifications and trainings. However, the August recess is also an opportunity for organizational and personal renewal. Here are some tips to get the most out of your August recess:
Examine your advocacy and engagement strategies: Take time to review your strategies for engaging Congress. Congress is a fast-paced and reactive environment - unrefined strategies often grow stale and ineffective. Ask yourself: What are my organization’s metrics for success and are they being met? What is the status of my organization’s priority legislation and what can we do to build or maintain momentum? How are our relationships with key policymakers and legislative champions?
Be patient: Given that it’s one of the only periods when congressional staff can take extended time off, expect a flurry of out-of-office replies, particularly during the first two weeks of August. Give staff space to recharge and re-engage closer to September.
Prioritize networking: The August recess’ slower pace of business makes it a great time to catch up with colleagues and meet new people. Reach out to former coworkers to meet for coffee or take time to cultivate relationships with professionals that you haven’t quite had time to get to know. Use this time to learn more about what others are working on and find areas of alignment.
Engage your Member of Congress at in-district and state events: As Brumidi Group Partner Madeline Wade recently pointed out, there are many overlooked benefits to engaging policymakers outside of Capitol Hill. If you live in D.C. and have travel planned to your home state or congressional district, consider attending a town hall or other event to engage your Member of Congress. Take time for yourself: It’s easy to get caught up in the endless hearings, votes, and fundraisers that occur when Congress is in session. It’s important to set aside time every year to relax, enjoy hobbies, travel, and spend time with family. The break from the constant barrage of updates and deadlines that the recess allows is a great opportunity to focus on yourself personally and professionally.
August recess is a great time to step back and refocus your advocacy efforts for the remainder of the fiscal and calendar year. Be sure to find a balance and make the most of your time; September will arrive before you know it. And with the amount on Congress’ plate when they return – FY24 appropriations, the Farm Bill, FAA reauthorization, and more – now is the time to position yourself for success.