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Holly's News From Washington - When Locals Speak Up
August is typically dead as a doornail in my town. The Members and Senators and a good portion of their staff have fled during the Congressional recess, and for good reason. The climate in Washington, DC, in this dullest of months is not for the faint of heart. Everybody who can leave does leave.
But happily, advocating for strong U.S. policies to fight slavery around the world doesn’t have to happen here in Washington. As I write this, some 400 friends of IJM from all 50 states are participating in meetings in their own states and towns with Members and Senators who are back for in-district meetings, or with their locally-based staff.
As you can imagine, scheduling these meetings can be quite a challenge, coordinating between the busy schedules of Members of Congress and the vacation season. IJM’s Government Relations and Advocacy team has been working hard getting these meetings booked and linking up our friends around the country with others in their community to visit their legislators.
Two weeks into this marathon, I can tell you that every minute spent is totally worth it. The purpose of these meetings is for anti-trafficking activists to urge their Members and Senators to co-sponsor legislation that would make the State Department Trafficking in Persons Office a Bureau. Thanks to these meetings, we’ve already secured five new House co-sponsors: Representatives Cole (R-OK-4), Lance (R-NJ-7), Lummis (R-WY-At Large), Terry (R-NE-2), and Frelinghuysen(R-NJ-11); and one new Senate co-sponsor: Johanns (R-NE). There are also many other Members of Congress who have expressed strong support and are likely to add their names to this list in September.
I am a life-long human rights lobbyist and am pretty good at my job, but I could not have secured those co-sponsorships. These good legislators joined onto this important legislation because they heard from citizens from their own states and districts. They heard from people who cared about slaves, and wanted to speak for them.
Democracy is an incredible blessing and a privilege. It’s incredibly cool to see it work on behalf of the most powerless people on this earth. Thanks, everybody, for joining the effort.