From the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS)
March 4, 2013
Subject: Outreach to United States Senate staff members asking Senators to co-sponsor S.237, the Advancing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Research, Prevention, and Services Act.
Objectives: 1) To obtain 40 or more Republican and Democratic Senate co-sponsors for S.237; 2) To ensure that S.237, or key provisions within the legislation, moves through the legislative process; 3) To ensure the passage and enactment of S.237, or key provisions within the bill.
Summary: Recently, the Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act (S.237) was reintroduced in the United States Senate by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tim Johnson (D-SD). They were joined by original co-sponsor Senator Mark Begich (D-AK). The bill seeks to reauthorize existing FASD activities at agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services; including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (FASD Center for Excellence). The bill would direct the federal Departments of Education and Justice to establish FASD education and training initiatives.
Once introduced, active and prompt consideration of the bill is dependent on the number of Senate offices supporting the legislation by serving as co-sponsors. The more co-sponsors, the greater the momentum and imperative for moving the bill through the legislative process.
Beyond passage of the bill, another critical benefit of increased visibility of FASD on Capitol Hill is to help preserve the existing funding appropriated for FASD in the face of deep, across -the-board cuts in federal spending.
NOFAS has been in contact with the Congressional Caucus on FASD and committee staff about a companion FASD bill in the United States House of Representatives. NOFAS will report on the prospects for a House bill as plans become known.
Requested Action: Contact (via e-mail) the designated health staff for your two U.S. senators and urge them to co-sponsor the FASD bill, S.237. The messages to the staff members may be identical, but they should be sent separately with personalized salutations.
Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, along with South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson, are already co-sponsoring the bill. If you live in Alaska or South Dakota, please contact their offices thanking them for their support.
How to Submit Your Emails to Senate Staff:
1) Search the U.S. Senate Contact List for the staff members in the offices of your two senators.
2) Draft separate email message to each of the two staff members (Sample Message);
3) Send your email messages by March 22, 2013 (include a link to the S.237 Summary);
4) Forward a copy of your message(s) or send an email indicating the staff member(s) to whom you have sent a message to Tom Donaldson at NOFAS. By doing so, your support for the FASD bill may be recognized during NOFAS meetings with staff members;
5) Ask your colleagues and friends, and, if applicable, your organization’s members to also send emails;
6) Follow-up on your email messages during the week of March 25-29. When you email NOFAS indicating that you have contacted your two senate offices, NOFAS will provide you with a follow-up email and telephone script.
Content of Email: Regardless of the overall content of your email, the following information should be included:
1) A greeting that includes the name of the staff member you are contacting. (Note: Please do not address your message, “To whom it may concern” or use any other generic greeting);
2) An acknowledgement that you are a resident of the state that the senator serves;
3) A personal introduction including the recognition of any relationship you have with the senator or any current or past staff member in the senator’s office;
4) A concise—preferably one sentence—statement that you are writing to ask that the senator co-sponsor S.237, the Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act;
5) A short, 1-2 sentence description of FASD and the purpose of the bill;
6) Any facts or data that demonstrate the significance of FASD in the U.S. and/or your state;
7) A personal comment or vignette that illustrates why FASD is important to you and why it should be important to the senator. This will provide the justification for asking the senator to co-sponsor the FASD bill;
8) Instructions on how the staff member can get more information about the bill. When contacting Democratic or Independent senators, direct the staff member to Megan DesCamps in Senator Johnson’s office (AK). When contacting Republican senators you will direct the staff member to Amanda Makki in Senator Murkowski’s office (SD);
9) A closing comment that thanks the staff member for their consideration and pledges that you will follow-up.
NOFAS Position: NOFAS believes that it is imperative for FASD to have as many allies as possible among elected officials and policymakers, at every level of government. Beyond the opportunity to advance the cause through the passage of important FASD legislation, the secondary benefits of advocacy outreach to U.S. Senate and House of Representative offices include, 1) increased knowledge about FASD among congressional staff, 2) increased opportunity to preserve existing federal funding for FASD and the possibility of securing an increase in funding, and 3) increased advocacy experience among FASD stakeholders.
For more information, contact Tom Donaldson at NOFAS.