Action Needed: Congress still has not reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. If Congress fails to pass VAWA in this "lame duck" session, we will have to start all over again with the new Congress in January. Even more concerning is the possibility of sequestration, or the Budget Control Act's ability to slash funds across the federal budget, including funds set aside for survivors. If Congress fails to pass a new budget, sequestration will result in nearly 200,000 fewer victims receiving lifesaving and cost-effective services. There is very little time left for this Congress to take action on VAWA.
Please call your House member, and tell her/him that it is critical that the Senate version (S. 1925) of the Violence Against Women Act be passed before the 112th Congress adjourns and that funding for VAWA programs should not be cut in the negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff." House Speaker John Boehner needs to schedule a floor vote as soon as possible. Please send your message NOW.
Background: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) must be reauthorized by this Congress. An inclusive, bipartisan bill (S. 1925) passed in the Senate earlier this year (68-31) contained important improvements that strengthen protections for a number of vulnerable populations, like battered immigrant women, Native American women, LGBT persons and violence survivors on college campuses. A very different House bill (H.R. 4970) was passed that actually reduces services and protections for undocumented immigrants and LGBT individuals. Prior to the November elections, progress on VAWA reauthorization was stymied. As an interim measure to keep VAWA and other federal programs funded at least through March 2013, a continuing resolution was passed. But the time has come to get this bill passed.
We need House members to pressure Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to schedule a vote on the Senate-passed bill. Some House members may think that they have voted for VAWA reauthorization, but you should let them know that the House version was a sham VAWA. In fact, 23 Republicans voted against H.R. 4970, which leaves out protections for anyone who isn't considered a "real" victim. House members cannot possibly be proud of a bill that would ignore improvements for victims of dating and sexual violence at colleges and universities; roll back protections for vulnerable groups, including communities of color; toss out strengthened housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; ignore important provisions to improve services and accountability in programs; and leave out prevention initiatives.
We cannot let Congress ignore our call to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act before the end of this year. And we cannot allow negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff" to result in cutting VAWA programs -- these programs are already under-funded and do not provide sufficient resources to meet the need. According to a one-day census conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, nearly10,000 requests for help are likely turned away each day for lack of shelter space and staff resources.