S. 47: House Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to S. 47

S. 47

House Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to S. 47

Sponsor
Sen. Bernard Sanders

Date
February 28, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, February 27, 2013, the House will begin consideration of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, under a structured rule.  S. 47 passed the Senate on February 12, 2013 by vote of 78-22.  A House amendment was posted on February 22, 2013 and will be offered to replace the underlying text of S. 47.  

Bill Summary

The House substitute reauthorizes formula and discretionary grant programs implemented by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services for an additional five years at $660 million a year. In addition, the substitute consolidates certain grant programs to streamline the administrative process.  In addition, the House substitute does the following:

  • Increases the emphasis on the investigation, prosecution, and services for victims of sexual assault.
  • Increases focus on training for law enforcement and prosecutors and efforts to reduce rape kit backlogs.
  • Enhances penalties for assault and improves the federal stalking statute.
  • Expands grants to tribal governments and coalitions to address violence against women on tribal land.
  • Guarantees funding to states for rape prevention education.
  • Provides elementary, middle and high school services for young victims, including personnel training, counseling, mentoring, and legal assistance.
  • Improves grants and educational programs to address domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault on college campuses.
  • Expands housing protections to sexual assault victims and broadens services to victims’ family members. 
  • Ensures that these housing protections are also extended to other federal housing programs and provides grants for transitional housing for victims.
  • Improves DHS reporting requirements to Congress, ensures that children of victims of abuse retain immigration benefits, and puts scarce resources to the best use to protect victims.
  • Permits Indian tribes to prosecute non-Indians who commit domestic violence crimes against Indian women in Indian country.
  • Provides grant money to the tribes to improve their criminal justice systems so they can better exercise this jurisdiction.
  • Mandates coordination among grantees and the federal agencies to guarantee that money is spent efficiently and effectively.
  • Ensures maximum funding to intended recipients by limiting expenditures for salaries and administrative costs to 5% of total VAWA funding.
  • Prohibits grantees from using federal money that should be used for victims to lobby for more funding.
  • Requires the Justice Department’s grant management office to exercise oversight over VAWA grants.
  • Revises the formulas for the Sexual Assault Services Program and Rape Prevention Education Program to ensure that the funding for these important programs is distributed more equitably to the states and territories.  
  • Ensures that law enforcement gets the assistance they need from those receiving immigration benefits to investigate and prosecute criminal offenders.   
  • Expands a program to encourage coordination and training between the U.S. Attorneys Offices and tribal governments.
  • Requires the Justice Department to cross-designate tribal prosecutors as federal prosecutors in at least 10 federally recognized Indian tribes.
  • Commissions a comprehensive study on efforts by the federal government to address violence in Indian Country.
  • Provides constitutional route for Indian tribes to prosecute non-Indian offenders for domestic violence crimes against Indian women in Indian country.
  • Requires Indian tribes to provide non-Indian offenders with all rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
  • Permits non-Indian defendants convicted in tribal court to appeal their convictions to federal district court.
  • Allows persons who are mistreated by a tribal government while in custody to seek redress in court in the same manner as those in federal or state custody.
  • Requires tribal justice systems to demonstrate ability to uphold the Constitution prior to exercising jurisdiction over non-Indians.

For the text of the amendment, and a detailed section-by-section, please click here.

Background

The Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) was first authorized in 1994 as title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.[1]  The Act was enacted in response to the growing concern of violent crime, particularly against women during the 1980s and early 1990s, and is a coordinated effort by law enforcement, judicial personnel, the public and private sector to meet the needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence.  The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) coordinates the effort at the federal level.  Since its creation in 1995, a total of $4.7 billion has been awarded in grants and cooperative agreements by OVW.[2]  In 2011 alone, OVW issued 832 grants totaling $453 million.  

VAWA has been reauthorized on two separate occasions – 2000 and 2005.[3]   VAWA’s last reauthorization expired at the end of FY2011.  Despite its expiration, the programs continue to be funded.  In FY 2012, a total of $599.8 million was appropriated for both the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.  (The Department of Justice received $412 million and the Department of Health and Human Services received $187.3 million).[4]   In the 112th Congress, both the House and Senate passed separate reauthorization bills.  The House passed H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act 2012, by a vote of 222-205 (See Roll Call#258).   The Senate passed S. 1925 the Violence Against Women Reauthorization of 2012, by a vote 68-31. (See Roll Call #87).



[1] See (PL103-322). 

[2] See House Judiciary Report 112-480.

[3] For more information on the previous two reauthorizations, see CRS Report, The Violence Against Women Act: Overview, Legislation, and Federal Funding, February 4, 2013 pp 9-10.

[4] See House Judiciary Report 112-480.

Cost

CBO has issued a total estimated authorization of $3.28 billion and a total estimated outlay of $2.21 billion over five years.