U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) has sponsored legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), S.2338. The bill strengthens and updates the version of VAWA currently being considered by the Senate (S.1925) in several important ways that can be supported by both Republicans and Democrats. S. 2338 also maintains the current funding level for VAWA, without adding to the budget deficit, and focuses resources on helping victims.
"Domestic violence brings fear, hopelessness and depression into the lives of every victim," Sen. Moran said. "We must not only work to end this "silent crime,' but also care for those who have become victims. In Kansas, shelters and crisis centers provide support to more than 1,000 victims each day -- but more must be done. This legislation will help give a voice to victims of domestic violence, toughen criminal penalties, and shore up problems with Justice Department oversight of VAWA programs."
The legislation sponsored by Sen. Moran is budget neutral and includes a number of provisions aimed to bring consensus to the reauthorization of VAWA. S. 2338 has been endorsed by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), Shared Hope International, and PROTECT.
Among the key provisions of the Sen. Moran-sponsored bill to strengthen VAWA:
* Increases the percentage of STOP grants that must be targeted to sexual assault to 30%. S. 1925 requires only 20% of grants to be used to target sexual assault.
* Requires that 70% of rape kit funding be used to reduce the backlog in testing rape kits. S.1925 allocates 40% of funding for rape kits testing.
* Creates a 10-year mandatory minimum for federal convictions for forcible rape, bringing the minimum more in line with federal guidelines. S.1925 contains only a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.
* Creates a 1-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of child pornography in which the victim depicted is under 12 years of age. There is no corresponding provision in S.1925.
* Creates a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for the crime of aggravated sexual assault through the use of drugs or by otherwise rendering the victim unconscious. S.1925 lacks this provision.
* Creates a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for the crime of interstate domestic violence that results in the death of the victim. S.1925 lacks this provision.
* Grants administrative subpoena power to the U.S. Marshals Service to help them discharge their duty of tracking and apprehending unregistered sex offenders. There is no corresponding provision in S.1925.
* Inserts gender-neutral language in all relevant provisions. S. 1925 seeks to categorize, rather than ensure equal access to VAWA services for all victims.
* Contains a bipartisan-supported cyber-stalking bill, S. 1928, the Stalkers Act. This is identical language to S. 1925.
* Funds the VAWA program at $682.5 million per year, which is the same funding level contained in S. 1925.
* Does not increase the federal deficit. S. 1925 would add $105 million to the budget deficit.
* Addresses recurring problems reported by the Inspector General with lax grant administration and oversight by the Department of Justice. Our bill addresses these IG concerns by including an annual requirement that 10% of grantees be audited, and a limit of 7.5% of appropriated funds on administrative costs.