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Congress as service

As we get ready to elect members of Congress in another few weeks, reflect on what members of Congress do. They may espouse positions, and cast votes. But that’s only a small part of what they do. They’re also there to provide some specific services. Some of them do it well, and some … not so well.

At Ridenbaugh Press, we had cause to reflect on this today.

Our small business produces several periodical subscription publications (you can find them pretty easily around this site), and several federal agencies have for some years been among the subscribers. Mostly, we have no problem dealing with them. But one agency (after some thought, we’ll let pass its name) has been difficult in the billing department – not in ordering the publications, or in its willingness to pay, but in the method of payment. We don’t take certain credit cards and – in contrast to other federal agencies we’ve dealt with – that is, this agency said, the only way it will pay.

So we hit a brick wall. For months. Then years.

Finally, yesterday, we decided to call our congressman, or at least his office. He is David Wu (Oregon’s 1st district), and his staff patched us through to a staffer who works with the agency in question. He took the information and promised to get back to us.

Before he had time to, the agency did – within hours. It offered to pay its bill in a way we had previously suggested but it had said was impossible. Of a sudden, it was possible. The bill is now paid. Would not have happened that way but for Wu’s office.

Get into a jam with the feds, your congressman (or staff) often can help out. Constituent service is an important part of what members of Congress do, and it seldom gets noted, and not all members of Congress are equal in this service. How well will your member of Congress work for you, as opposed to spouting positions (and eagerness to do one often seems inverse to eagerness to do the other)? A point worth thinking about as those ballots arrive.

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