PROTECT WOMEN FROM VIOLENCE AND REFORM CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Congress is scheduled to be in joint session for only 12 more days. In addition to the issues we’ve already highlighted – the Farm Bill SNAP provisions, the Mueller bill, the bad nominations – Congress must re-authorize an expanded Violence Against Women Act and criminal justice reform (First Step Act).

VAWA, expiring on 12/7, was hailed as landmark legislation when it passed in 1994. It currently contains crucial provisions protecting victims of domestic violence:

  • Limits on admissibility of victim sexual history
  • Violence prevention programs
  • Protections for victims who are evicted
  • Funding for rape crisis centers and hotlines
  • Programs for immigrant and disabled victims and victims of different races or ethnicities

The First Step Act is bi-partisan legislation to:

  • lower mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses,
  • allow judges discretion not to follow some mandatory minimum sentences,
  • eliminate the “three strikes” law and some sentencing enhancements
  • permit retroactive reduction of some of the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses

But laws can only be as effective as the judges who apply them. That’s why we must also tell the Senate to vote down the nominations of unqualified Thomas Farr and Jonathan Kobes.

ACTION ONE: GO TO #RESISTTRUMPTUESDAY

Join us at #ResistTrumpTuesday on Tuesday, November 27th, at 11:30 in the courtyard of Senator Wyden’s office. We will meet with Senator Wyden’s staff and

  • Thank Senator Wyden for supporting the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S. 1539), which would eliminate the “boyfriend loophole” in the Violence Against Women Act, which will soon expire.
  • Ask Senator Wyden to support a bill to re-authorize VAWA, like H.R. 6545 (which is supported by all of the Democrats in the Oregon Congressional caucus)
  • Ask Senator Wyden to push for criminal justice reform by passing the First Step Act (S. 2795)
  • Continue to fight the nominations of Thomas Farr and Jonathan Kobes to the federal bench
ACTION ONE: CALL YOUR SENATORS
SAMPLE SCRIPT FOR MERKLEY AND WYDEN:

(Leave a message if you can’t get through)

“My name is [–] and I’m a constituent from [city], Oregon [zip code]. I am calling because Christine Blassey Ford’s testimony underscored the continuing need for attention to the plight of victims of sexual violence. I am thankful to Senator Wyden for sponsoring the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2017 (S. 1539), which would eliminate the “boyfriend loophole” now in the Violence Against Women Act. I also ask that Senator Wyden do three things:

1) do everything he can to re-authorize the VAWA (H.R. 6545)

2) push hard for passage of the First Step Act (S. 2795), a bi-partisan measure that begins to address the tragic legal inequities that have led to mass incarceration.

3) continue to do everything he can to prevent the confirmation of unqualified judicial nominees, especially Thomas Farr and Jonathan Kobes. Thank you.”

ACTION TWO: CALL YOUR HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES

Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Find out here. 

SAMPLE SCRIPT FOR REPRESENTATIVES BLUMENAUER, DEFAZIO AND SCHRADER:

(Leave a message if you can’t get through)

“My name is [–] and I’m a constituent from [city], Oregon [zip code]. I am calling because Christine Blassey Ford’s testimony underscored the continuing need for attention to the plight of victims of sexual violence. Thank you for sponsoring the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3207), which would eliminate the “boyfriend loophole” now in the Violence Against Women Act. But VAWA will soon expire unless the new law you have sponsored to re-authorize it (H.R. 6545), is passed. We need you to do everything you can to make that happen! I also ask you to push hard for passage of the First Step Act (H.R. 5682), a bi-partisan measure endorsed by the NAACP that begins to address the tragic legal inequities that have led to mass incarceration. Thank you.”

SAMPLE SCRIPT FOR REPRESENTATIVE BONAMICI:

(Leave a message if you can’t get through)

“My name is [–] and I’m a constituent from [city], Oregon [zip code]. I am calling because Christine Blassey Ford’s testimony underscored the continuing need for attention to the plight of victims of sexual violence. I am asking that you join Representatives Blumenauer, DeFazio, and Schrader in sponsoring the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3207), which would eliminate the “boyfriend loophole” now in the Violence Against Women Act. But VAWA will soon expire unless the new law you have sponsored to re-authorize it (H.R. 6545), is passed. We need you to do everything you can to make that happen! I also ask you to push hard for passage of the First Step Act (H.R. 5682), a bi-partisan measure endorsed by the NAACP that begins to address the tragic legal inequities that have led to mass incarceration. Thank you.”

SAMPLE SCRIPT FOR REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN:

(Leave a message if you can’t get through)

“My name is [–] and I’m a constituent from [city], Oregon [zip code]. I am calling because Christine Blassey Ford’s testimony underscored the continuing need for attention to the plight of victims of sexual violence. I am asking that you address this on-going issue by supporting the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act (H.R. 3207), which would eliminate the “boyfriend loophole” now in the Violence Against Women Act, as well as a new law to re-authorize VAWA (H.R. 6545). We need you to do everything you can to make that happen! I also ask you to push hard for passage of the First Step Act (H.R. 5682), a bi-partisan measure endorsed by President Trump that begins to address the tragic legal inequities that have led to mass incarceration. Thank you.”

CALL Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
CALL BLUMENAUER (OR-03)
CALL Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
ACTION FOUR: READ “INDIVISIBLE ON OFFENSE

The Democratic majority in the House can now determine which bills get votes. Read Indivisible’s new strategy for how progressives can exercise their power to go on legislative offense in 2019 and 2020 utilizing “messaging” bills and “must-pass” bills. Then get ready to make sure the newly-elected House uses its power wisely.