Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Action Alert on House Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) needed THIS WEEK

From Pat Reuss of National Organization for Women (NOW), who helped propose and keeps fighting for VAWA.

Congress is in recess and we need to act on VAWA NOW while they are home.  If you only have time to do one thing, do #4.  Please encourage other orgs in your state to join you in this effort.   
  1. Publicly thank or chastise your state's U.S. Senators for their VAWA vote.  Post and share this Poster on Facebook and everywhere else: http://front.moveon.org/the-31-republican-senators-who-voted-no-on-the-violence-against-women-act/#.T5_joOl15ZY.facebook
  2. Publicly oppose the House Republican version of VAWA, publicize to all your friends and to every House Member in your state from either party.  Task force statement at www.4vawa.org
  3. Call your Representatives in your state who are on the House Judiciary Committee and ask that they oppose the Republican bill and support improving amendments offered by Conyers when the committee meets May 8.
  4. Ask your Representatives in your state to sign on as a sponsor to the Moore (D-WI) VAWA bill, H.R. 4271.  http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

More details below:

  1. As you know, VAWA passed the Senate last week, 68-31.  We hope that you are speaking out and writing public statements and letters to the editor, thanking the Senators who voted Yes and chastising the Senators who voted NO.  For the NOs, ask that they explain their vote to the survivors in your state who they left out because they somehow are not deserving of help under VAWA.   

  1. In the House, several things are going on at once.
    • Republican women have introduced their own version of VAWA reauthorization, which leaves out the important improvements and constituencies, found in the Senate bill.  At a press conference when introducing their bill, H.R. 4970, several statements underscored the disdain that these women have for immigrant, Native and LGBT survivors:
                                                               i.      McMorris Rodgers, incredibly, said the Republican bill will protect "the true victims of domestic violence and sexual assault"— http://publicola.com/2012/04/27/violence-against-women-act-passes-senate-but
                                                             ii.      "I can assure you that the House is not opening up the bill in controversial ways like the Senate bill does," said Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL) spokeswoman Lisa Boothe in an e-mail.  "This is a bipartisan issue and should not be used for political fodder." http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2012/04/in-the-end-hutchison-votes-for-and-cornyn-against-senate-violence-against-women-act-reauthorization

  1. The House Judiciary Committee has announced that it will "mark up" the Adams bill H.R. 4970 on Tuesday, May 8.  Contact your Representative if they are on the House Judiciary Committee and lodge your opposition to H.R. 4970.  Ask them to support amendments that improve VAWA and resemble the Senate passed bill – which had 15 Republicans voting YES.  Ranking Minority on that committee, John Conyers (D-MI) hopes to offer additional improvements requested by the National Task Force to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, but there is little hope that enough Republicans will agree.  The Adams/Cantor VAWA will most likely pass on a purely partisan vote, 23-16.  Other amendments from the Republicans and Democrats may be offered but NO amendment - unless it is a complete replacement - will improve the Adams bill so that we can support it.

  1. Although Gwen Moore introduced her bill to reauthorize VAWA, H.R. 4271, as a placeholder and political ploy by her party's leaders, it is still a good bill (not perfect, but better even than the bill that the Senate passed).  We need every Democrat in Congress (190) and a few brave Republicans (looks doubtful but we never give up) to be on the sponsor list – ideally in time for the May 8 markup, but essential before the bill goes to the floor sometime in May.  There will be massive media and political attention to the House Republican bill, especially if it passes out of committee with NO Democratic votes and opposition from national and community groups who historically and currently support VAWA. 
·         First, check with http://thomas.loc.gov  and type in H.R. 4271 to search for the bill and find out who are the 74 sponsors.  If they are Representatives in your state, thank them. 
·         For the rest, please call the DC offices of the Representatives in your state – start with the Democrats – and ask for the staff person who handles VAWA.  If your Representative is a Republican, ask them to help debunk the "war on women' accusations that are being aimed at them by becoming a sponsor of the Moore VAWA. 
·         If people are interested, tell them to call (202) 225-4572 or email Steffany Stern Steffany.Stern@mail.house.gov .  Please make a note of who you talk to and let her know what they say when you ask them to get their boss on the Moore VAWA bill.  NOW and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin)'s office are developing materials for your use, so check your inbox for more materials.

Remember, Members cannot officially sign on until Congress is back in session on Monday, May 7, but Steffany in Rep. Moore's office will be collecting names and we will send out updated lists of any new sponsors of the Moore bill.

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