Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) issued the following statement today after voting against a flawed House Republican bill (H.R. 4970) to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):
"Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has been an essential tool in protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence, and it has always been bipartisan," Rep. Eshoo said. "The House Republican's version of VAWA unwinds the long-standing commitment to lifesaving assistance for the most vulnerable victims. It eliminates confidentiality protections for immigrant victims, imposes broad and imprecise mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders, lacks protections for LGBT victims, and limits resources for victims living in subsidized housing or on college campuses. In every case, this is unacceptable."
Rep. Eshoo voted for a bipartisan VAWA in 1994 to improve criminal justice and community-based response for victims of abuse. That bill ultimately changed the landscape for those previously left to suffer in silence. VAWA programs have focused on numerous areas of critical domestic violence intervention: family violence prevention; health care system responses; housing opportunities for battered women and children; economic security for victims; protection of trafficked immigrants; and safety for Native American women.
Eshoo cosponsors alternate legislation, H.R. 4271, which responsibly extends and strengthens VAWA programs. The legislation reflects input from more than 2,000 law enforcement, court, prosecution, legal services, and victim services professionals across the country. In addition to expanding protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence, it renews successful programs, consolidates 13 duplicative programs into four, and creates new accountability initiatives.
Eshoo is also a cosponsor of H.R. 5331, the Violence Against Immigrant Women Act. This legislation improves access to existing protections for victims of human trafficking and abuse and enhances confidentiality protections for victims who come forward. It also establishes ongoing training for Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and State Department personnel who come into contact with immigrant domestic violence victims to ensure they know the full range of immigration relief petitions available to victims.
More than 300 organizations oppose the House Republican bill, including such groups as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Break the Cycle, Legal Momentum, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, YWCA USA, AAUW, Business and Professional Women's Foundation, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Bar Association, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Human Rights Campaign, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and National Congress of American Indians.