What Does A Legislative Assistant Do?
Senators and congressmen perform the very important work of passing bills and laws that will have an impact on the day-to-day lives of the American people. They would not be able to do their work without the help of legislative assistants. Also known as legislative aides, they are the professionals who work in the offices of congressmen and senators who provide the essential support these representatives need in the areas of public relations, administration and communications. Legislators typically have a team of legislative assistants working for them who each focus on their own area of policy expertise that the congressman or senator is working on. The entire team is led by an experienced legislative aide who is known as the senior legislative assistant.
One of the most important duties of legislative assistants is doing research. Legislators propose bills or give their support on the proposals of their colleagues. Before they can craft legislation on important issues or vote on proposed bills, legislators need to know what it is about. Thus, they need to study it as comprehensively as possible. They also need to read research studies and surveys done on the matter. Because congressmen and senators cannot possibly read and digest volumes of data of various bill proposals by themselves, legislative assistants are often tasked with looking up on the resources, conducting research and distilling the important points for their legislator. Research may also require them to attend meetings and hearings and obtain records.
Legislative assistants also serve as the extended arm of the legislator in the area of public relations. When the congressman or senator they work for cannot attend a community event because of a conflict in schedule, legislative assistants take their place and represent them. They also coordinate meetings between the legislator and the constituents they serve on important matters. To inform the public of the representative’s stand on different issues, legislative assistants work together with legislators in crafting their speeches, press releases and other articles.
Legislative assistants also serve as the liaison between constituents and their congressmen and senators. They entertain concerns of the constituents and relay this to their respective representatives. Constituents often get in touch with their representatives and talk to them about concerns affecting them in areas like education, senior citizen services and community development projects. Legislative assistants look at what the representative is doing about these issues and report back to the constituents. In the end, the role of legislators is to ensure that they pass bills that would be advantageous to their constituents. Legislative assistants must also communicate to the representative’s constituents the actions taken by their representative to address their concerns.
Undertaking legislative duties is also part and parcel of the job of legislative assistants. They answer phone calls, arrange the schedules of their representatives and write reports. Since legislators typically hold offices in Washington and in their home state, legislative assistants can also expect to make travel arrangements for their representatives. They may also have to travel with their representatives in some cases. In addition, they also ensure that the representative’s office functions like a well-oiled machine, that the interns are trained and know what to do and that deadlines for reports and legislation are met.