Enacted in 1994, the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) provides federal funding for programs and organizations that help assist women who are victims of domestic abuse, stalking, and sexual assault. The Act establishes a number of grant programs within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for state, local, and tribal governments and victim service providers.
On April 26, 2012, the Senate approved S. 1925, a bill to reauthorize VAWA. The House will consider a different reauthorization bill, H.R. 4970, this week under a rule. H.R. 4970 would reauthorize funding for VAWA grant programs for five years, and would provide more than $660 million in funding per year to help prevent domestic violence and protect victims of abuse. The bill would make several key improvements to current law and S. 1925, including nearly doubling resources for eliminating the backlog of unprocessed rape evidence kits and cracking down on the fraud identified in the immigration program. H.R. 4970 would reauthorize funding at the same levels as the Senate bill for five years, while consolidating certain grants, streamlining the process, and ensuring that tax dollars are spent more efficiently.
CHARGE AND RESPONSE
Charge: House Republicans are continuing their “war on women” by holding the VAWA reauthorization hostage.
Response: It is disappointing that Democrats have taken what has always been a bipartisan issue and turned it into partisan election year politics. The reauthorization of VAWA is, and will always be, about the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Since Democrats cannot stand on their economic record, they are turning to the politics of division and envy. That political strategy is not surprising due to how adversely the Obama economy has affected women. The number of unemployed single women has grown by 12 percent since the President was sworn-into office and there are 567,000 fewer women working today than when President Obama took office.
Charge: "The other team is taking on virtually every one of the initiatives you and I and the president fought so hard to establish … We have one more hurdle … and that’s the House of Representatives … And we need your help with making sure that, as my mom would say, the Real McCoy passes—the real Violence Against Women Act … Ask yourself, what message would it send to every one of our daughters, every woman imprisoned in her own home? Ask yourself, what would it say to them if we didn’t reauthorize this law?" – Vice President Biden, May 4, 2012.
Response: Democrats using the reauthorization of VAWA as a wedge issue is abhorrent. Preventing violence against women is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s an American issue. The President and his surrogates cannot talk about their failed economy and policies, so instead, they are manufacturing partisan issues out of what have largely been bipartisan solutions. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), was herself a victim of abuse who fought her way through her trials to the upper echelons of law enforcement where she advocated for victims’ rights. Rep. Adams has ensured that H.R. 4970 would bring greater accountability to the VAWA grant administration by ensuring that funding is spent on the victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking – not on Washington bureaucrats.
Charge: H.R. 4970 would roll back protections for American Indian women.
Response: H.R. 4970 aims to cover all women, irrespective of race or creed. H.R. 4970 would provide greater protections to American Indian women by designating domestic violence tribal liaisons within the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and would allow victims of domestic violence or Indian tribes on behalf of victims to seek protection orders from U.S. District Courts against Indian or non-Indian abusers. H.R. 4970 reauthorizes grants targeted specifically at helping victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in Indian country.
Charge: The bill is a "flat-out attack on women" for eliminating protections for the LGBT community.
Response: Republicans firmly believe that a victim of domestic violence is a victim of domestic violence—regardless of her sexual orientation or any other classification—and have therefore ensured that H.R. 4970 is all-inclusive. Republicans don’t believe that anyone should be discriminated against, and if you’re a victim of the crimes covered by VAWA, you should be served by those receiving its grants. Singling out groups based on classifications would exclude other groups not on that list.
Charge: H.R. 4970 would roll back and destroy years of progress to protect the safety of immigrant women and create more obstacles for these victims to report crimes.
Response: H.R. 4970 is a victim-centered bill that is all inclusive. In an effort to prevent abuse of the U-visa and the VAWA self-petition process for undocumented immigrants, H.R. 4970 would strengthen the requirements to receive a U-visa and would add provisions to combat fraud in the VAWA self-petitioning process. It is important to ensure that scarce resources go to helping the true victims of crime.
For more information or questions please contact Sarah Makin at 6-2302.