U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), introduced an amendment today to the FY 2008 Budget Resolution to increase funding for key VAWA programs. Although the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 was unanimously passed by Congress, funding has continuously been sub-par. According to government reports, one in every four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime and one in every six women will suffer from an attempted or completed rape.
"There is no doubt that we have made tremendous progress battling domestic violence since the passage of the original Violence Against Women Act," said Senator Biden. "We took what was once a dirty little secret no one talked about and made its eradication a national priority. But we cannot let our attention lapse or allow our spending priorities to become misplaced. Everyday women, children and sometimes men, in Delaware and across the nation still live in fear in their own homes. It is crucial that we continue to fund these key, successful programs and keep fighting domestic violence on the front lines."
Senator Biden's amendment would add $100 million to the funding allocation for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs administered by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. Specifically, $60 million would go towards VAWA programs administered under the Department of Justice and $40 million would go towards VAWA programs administered under the Department of Health and Human Services. Senator Biden's amendment would provide a serious and much-needed funding boost to programs that will train more police officers, judges, and prosecutors, expand transitional housing for victims, improve services for battered women in rural areas and Indian land, launch prevention programs aimed at boys and young men and much more.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 authorized slightly over $1 billion for programs, yet in recent years appropriated spending has lingered at approximately $557 million. The President's FY 2008 budget proposes $546.6 million in funding. Senator Biden's amendment seeks to reinvigorate this critical funding stream for America's broken families, and to ensure that Congress' commitment to end domestic and sexual violence does not languish with flat funding levels.
To put the domestic violence epidemic in context, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has fielded over 215,220 callers in 2006 alone - an average of 4,138 calls a week. In addition, a newly released national survey by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found in just one 24-hour cycle, over 5,000 pleas for services, be it emergency shelter, transitional housing or legal aid, were unmet because of a lack of resources.