Monday, November 7, 2011

Ask the President for a Public Signing!


Today we learned that the President has just received the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act and will decide very soon whether to hold a public signing - a rare event that greatly elevates the attention new legislation receives!

Public signings of new laws really help build greater public awareness of the issues involved - such as sexual violence - and in this case would help ensure stronger implementation of the needed reforms, and bring a positive light to the Peace Corps' progress after much negative press. Further reasons for holding a public signing are also outlined in the letter below by our congressional allies in the Senate and House. This is the final push we can make to honor Kate's memory and ensure that the legislation will be rigorously implemented so that future Peace Corps Volunteers can serve more safely and victims of rape & other violence will be sure to receive the care & support that they need.

PLEASE HELP US by either calling or sending an email to the White House in support of a public signing:

White House Phone: 

White House Email 
[under subject, choose 'Other' - to see a SAMPLE EMAIL, click here]

Here is the letter sent to the White House today by Senator Isakson, Senator Boxer, Rep. Poe, and Rep. Farr:

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As Members who worked on drafting the bill, we write to respectfully request you conduct a public signing of S.1280, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011. On November 1, the House passed S.1280 and having already passed the Senate, it was sent to your desk for your signature.

We believe a public signing is a good idea for four reasons. First, S.1280 shows that our two political parties can still work together for good. Throughout the process, this bill was about finding common ground. Drafters from both parties and both houses spent hours working together to build the bill piece by piece. When we introduced the bill, the original cosponsor list was full of Members from both parties, and the bill was passed unanimously out of its respective House and Senate committees. The final result continued the trend: after the Senate unanimously passed the bill, the House voted 406-0 for final passage. In a climate where the legislative process is all too often caught up in gridlock, this bill is a refreshing reminder that our parties can still come together and right a wrong.

Second, this bill highlights the important work that your Administration is already doing. The problems this bill addressed were decades in the making. When we met with Director Williams to discuss them, we discovered that he was already instituting a number of key reforms, such as hiring a Victims Advocate. Many of this bill’s provisions simply codify the reforms that Director Williams has put in place.

Third, this bill reminds our country of the call to service first made by President Kennedy. This bill is not about criticizing the Peace Corps, but about building it up—making it a better, finer institution. We firmly believe that selfless Peace Corps Volunteers are some of the best ambassadors this country has to offer. The mission of the Peace Corps first laid out in 1961- to promote world peace and friendship- is still as relevant today as ever. It is our hope that this bill encourages even more Americans to heed President Kennedy’s call.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this bill emphasizes that our democracy is as vibrant as ever. The bill originated because a group of former Peace Corps Volunteers and their families decided to work to make a difference. The Puzey family, heartbroken over the murder of their daughter and sister, turned their sorrow into selfless good by pushing for stronger confidentiality protections for Volunteers. Casey Frazee founded First Response Action, a group of Peace Corps survivors mistreated by the organization they loved, and crafted substantive recommendations for the legislation.  This bill is a direct result of their petitions to Congress. It goes without saying that a public signing would mean the world to them.

We appreciate your support of this critical piece of legislation and hope that you take the opportunity to conduct a public signing as soon as your schedule permits.


Ted Poe                             Johnny Isakson                                  
Member of Congress          Member of Congress                          

Sam Farr                             Barbara Boxer
Member of Congress            Member of Congress

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