Please urge your senators and representatives to co-sponsor and support the reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. VAWA expires on September 30 and we need an overwhelming show of support to make sure that this landmark bill continues its important anti-violence mission.
In the Senate, S. 1197, sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Joe Biden (D-Del.), continues services and programs for violence survivors and includes some enhancements. It helps safeguard abused women's jobs; includes measures for victims of trafficking; expands duration of T-visas for battered immigrant women and establishes a new tribal Deputy Director in the Office on Violence Against Women, to name a few. Proposed Funding over 5 years: $3.947 billion. An extensive summary is available online.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings in July and VAWA 2005 could come to the Senate floor for a vote any time after Labor Day. The more sponsors it has, the more likely that it will reach the floor and be passed without weakening amendments or funding cuts. Therefore it is urgent that you write and call your senators today.
Our Tell Congress email system will automatically set up your message to thank Senators who are already co-sponsors and to encourage the others to add their names to the bipartisan bill. Be sure to add a personal note at the end and include statistics or information specific to your program, community or your state.
A follow up phone call to the senators' state or DC office
will ensure that your message is heard and taken into consideration.
In the House, there are two versions of VAWA reauthorization. Ask your Representative to support both of them.
HR 2876, sponsored by Representatives Mark Green (R-Wisc.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), mirrors a lot of the Senate bill and includes programs geared towards protecting young survivors, supports educating health care workers on how to respond to domestic violence survivors and promotes safe and long-term housing for those escaping violence. Proposed funding over 5 years: $3.938 billion.
HR 3171, sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and 120 House Democrats, includes all of the Senate and bipartisan House bill provisions and adds new and expanded programs and provisions. It provides additional protections for battered immigrant women; promotes access to emergency contraception for rape survivors and much more.
Please send a message to your representative and add a personal message similar to the one you sent to your senators. The message will urge them to sign on to and support both of the House bills, and you can personalize the message if you wish.
If possible, please follow up with a phone call to their D.C. or district office.
On October 1, 2005, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will expire if Congress does not reauthorize the bill. For the past decade, VAWA has served as a landmark piece of legislation that has provided crucial aid to women, men and children experiencing violence. VAWA programs and services, with the support of federal, state and private funding, have changed and improved our nation's responses to violence at the federal, state, local, campus, institutional and tribal level.
When VAWA was first authorized in 1994 it not only increased funding for programs and services, but it also attempted to improve law enforcement's response to violence. In 2000 VAWA was reauthorized and added some improved services for rural, older, immigrant and disabled women.
From 1994 to 2005, the Violence Against Women Act provided rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and law enforcement agencies with the expertise and services they needed to begin the work of prevention and protection for women, men and children affected by violence. When former President Clinton signed VAWA in 1994, $1.62 billion was authorized for the law's first 6 years. In 2000, funding was doubled to $3.17 billion for 5 years. However, with this year's fierce partisanship and tight budget, due to the war expenditures and tax cuts, the proposed $6.2 billion for the 2005 VAWA reauthorization has been cut to a dismal $3.9 billion for the next 5 years.
While it is important to support the bills that have bipartisan support and the best likelihood of passing before October 1 (S. 1197 and H.R. 2876), it is also important to support and promote the bill which reaches beyond the practicality of what we "can" do to what "must be done," which is why we are also supporting H.R. 3171.