Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03) today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (VAWA) of 2012.
"As a co-sponsor of this legislation, I was proud to cast a vote in support of providing funding for the programs and organizations in southern Nevada that assist women who are victims of domestic abuse," Rep. Heck said. "This bill provides increased resources for criminal investigations, strengthens penalties against abusers to better protect victims, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and funds programs that protect victims from the physical and mental scars of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and rape."
Rep. Heck continued, "Sadly, Nevada has ranked among the national leaders in domestic violence. It is my hope that this reauthorization will supply the necessary resources to protect women from becoming victims and provide the critical assistance necessary for those who have been victimized to best help the recovery and rehabilitation process."
"The House and Senate both recognize the importance of reauthorizing VAWA and the critical task now becomes taking this legislation to a conference committee to further strengthen the bill and protect our communities from domestic violence."
* H.R. 4970 reauthorizes funding for VAWA grant programs for five years and provides more than $660 million in funding per year to help prevent domestic violence and protect victims of abuse.
* Establishes grant programs within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for state, local, and tribal governments and victim service providers.
* Improves accountability and transparency of grant administration by the DOJ Inspector General to audit 10% of VAWA grantees annually and imposes penalties for those found to be abusing the system.
* Limits temporary U-visas to illegal immigrants who are victims of crimes in the U.S. only if they assist in the investigation and prosecution of their assailants.
* Since its creation in 1995, DOJ's Office on Violence Against Women has awarded over $4.7 billion in grants and cooperative agreements . In 2011, the office awarded 832 grants totaling over $453 million.