WALKING THE HALLS OF CONGRESS
By Nancy Merritt
The National and CA Department of Peacebuilding (DoP) committees, and other DoP partners, lobbied 125+ members of Congress and U.S. Senators this fall, with visits to many legislative offices in Washington DC, and “AMPLIFYING” calls and visits from our home states. The National DoP committee delivered 134 personalized letters to members of Congress. The CA DoP group delivered almost 3,500 letters from Californians, including 3,400 urging various members of Congress to cosponsor the Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2015 (DoP/ HR 1111) and another 100 letters asking CA Senator Barbara Boxer to cosponsor the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunity Mentoring Intervention Support and Education ACT (YPA/ S.1770/ HR 2197).
Following our fall lobbying, to date two members of Congress — Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH) and Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ) — signed on as DoP cosponsors. Others have expressed their intent to cosponsor. As of 12/01/15, HR 1111 has 28 cosponsors, many of whom signed on after lobbying by DoP supporters, who continue following up with various members of Congress.
During our DoP and related peacebuilding lobbying this fall, we focused on:
- 27 Current DoP cosponsors & sponsor – thanked them and asked them to support YPA and other peacebuilding and restorative practice legislation
- 30 Former DoP cosponsors & “near” cosponsors – thanked them for past support, asked them (as applicable) to cosponsor HR 1111 and thanked/ asked them to cosponsor YPA and other peacebuilding and restorative practice legislation
- 28 remaining CA Democratic members of Congress who are not current or former cosponsors & 2 Democratic CA Senators – informed them (and non CA Democrats) that the CA Democratic Party (CDP) endorses DoP legislation and the CDP recently passed a “Resolution Urging the United Nations and All Member States to Support Infrastructures of Peace Within and Among Nations”
- 14 CA Republican members of Congress – discussed and asked their support for DoP, YPA and other peacebuilding and restorative practice legislation
- 25+ Legislators from Non CA States of DoP supporters (FL, GA, IL, MA, MO) – as applicable discussed and asked their support for DoP, YPA and/ or other peacebuilding and restorative practice legislation. Other Peace Alliance conference attendees also visited legislators from states such as AL, FL, OH and NY and have actively supported YPA in their home states. (For more information on the conference, see www.peacealliance.org.)
In connecting with so many legislators, we experienced informative, thought-provoking and inspirational moments. And we had fun. We started at the office of DoP sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) with a meeting between her legislative director and ten, mostly long-time Peace Alliance advocates of DoP legislation. A few days later, we concluded by delivering to the office of Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (MA) a letter on behalf of his constituents (and my grandchildren) requesting him to cosponsor HR 1111. We also included photos of the amazing grandchildren (Jake and Hannah) and mentioned their parents, who, of course, are also constituents. In between, we visited many other legislators and/or their staffs. For more details, see the full report.
DoP advocates at the office of DoP Sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), photo includes Rep. Lee’s Legislative Director, Diala Jadallah, and DoP advocates [Concetta Smart (IL), Deborah Greene (CA), Jerilyn Stapleton (CA), Karen Johnson (IL), Debra Poss (GA), Lorrie Norby (CA), Nancy Merritt (CA), Lily Marie (CA), Kendra Mon (CA), Doug Merritt (CA)]
DoP advocates at the office of DoP Co-sponsor Rep. John Lewis (GA), photo includes Rep. Lewis’s Legislative Director Jamila Thompson and DoP advoctes [Nancy Merritt (CA), Kendra Mon (CA), Jerilyn Stapleton (CA), Debra Poss (GA), Anne Creter (NJ)]
Betty Cooper (MO DoP Campaign) sitting at the desk of Rep. William Lacy Clay (MO) with placard, “The Buck Stops Here.”
In the halls of Congress – Doug Merritt (CA) with cardboard cutout of Liberace at the office of Rep. Dina Titus (NV).