Legislative Fall Preview
This summer, while Congress has been out of session, I have undergone treatment here in Houston for Leukemia. Fortunately, just eight weeks into treatment, I am feeling like myself again and am confident that I will beat cancer. Incredible progress has been made so far thanks to the Good Lord and the world class team of physicians at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Tomorrow, I will return to Washington for votes and I hope to be present for as much of the fall session that my treatment schedule will allow. The support that I have received during this difficult time has been overwhelming. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. This September, during Leukemia Awareness Month, I intend to keep fighting this disease with all that I have while fighting for Texans in the House of Representatives, just as I always have. And that’s just the way it is.
It is hard to believe that it is already September and fall is just around the corner! Young Texans are back in school, football season has started (Go Texans) and Congress has wrapped up its summer recess. As we head back into session, I wanted to give you a brief overview of four of my biggest priorities for this month.
Justice for All
The Justice for all Reauthorization Act of 2016 strengthens crime victims’ rights and programs, by increasing access to restitution to federal crime victims and reauthorizing programs used to notify crime victims that they have the right to be heard, with legal assistance, in court. The Act also aims to reduce the rape kit backlog and provides resource for forensic labs, while protecting the innocent by improving access to post-conviction DNA testing.
The 2004 Justice for All Act (JFA) took a big step forward in increasing resources devoted to DNA and other forensic technology. As a former prosecutor and judge and the co-chair of the Victims’ Rights Caucus, I have seen firsthand victims of crime whose lives and families' lives have been torn apart. Reauthorizing JFA strengthens protections for victims, provides resources to law enforcement and crime labs, and protects the innocent.
Human Trafficking happens right here in Houston, in our own backyard. It’s time to bring an end to trafficking and stop letting these lawless criminals get away with buying and selling human beings. The SHAME Act will give federal judges the ability to publish the names and photographs of convicted human traffickers and buyers of trafficked victims.
This legislation is designed to allow easy public access to the pictures and information of those among them in society who would purchase sex from these victims. Not only will it raise public awareness, but it is my hope that it will strike fear and bring shame to all the buyers who will no longer be able to hide in plain sight.
Peace Corps Act of 2016
In 2011, Congress passed the Kate Puzey Act, which I sponsored in the House, to require the Peace Corps to improve the care for volunteers who were sexual assaulted and protect whistleblowers. The PEACE Corps Act of 2016 follows up on the important work of the Kate Puzey Act, and authorizes the Corps to provide higher quality and more timely treatment for volunteers serving in the field and for volunteers who come home with service-related conditions. It also creates new provisions for medical officers, brings needed reforms to the Peace Corps Inspector General’s Office, and reforms and extends the Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council.
We must stand up and protect America’s angels abroad. Peace Corps volunteers are ambassadors of the United States who spend years of their lives helping others who are less fortunate all over the world. These volunteers are dedicated to taking care of others; now it is time to make sure that they are taken care of.
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