The House of Representatives will today vote on a bill to reauthorize for five years the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2012 (H.R. 4970) ensures that federal resources authorized by VAWA go directly to organizations and programs that help prevent violent crime and protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
But instead of working with Republicans in a bipartisan manner, Democrats have chosen to place partisan posturing above renewing VAWA. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a co-sponsor of the bill, urged Democrats to work with Republicans to come together and support the legislation.
Chairman Smith: "H.R. 4970 authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars to provide valuable services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This bill provides funding for VAWA grant programs for five years at the same levels as the Senate-passed bill. Those who have supported VAWA in the past should be eager to support this legislation today.
"Violence against women doesn't occur along party lines, and neither should reauthorization of these programs. Instead of working with Republicans in a bipartisan effort to protect women from domestic violence, rape and stalking, some Democrats have chosen to place partisan posturing above the urgent needs of victims of violence.
"If Members choose to oppose this bill for political reasons, that's their decision. A vote against this bill is a vote against common sense and a vote against helping abused women."
Background: Enacted in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act provides federal funding for programs and organizations that help assist women who are victims of domestic abuse, stalking and sexual assault. The Act establishes a number of 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. DOJ's Office on Violence Against Women, which was established in 1995, administers the DOJ grants authorized by VAWA.
H.R. 4970 increases accountability and transparency of grant administration by requiring the DOJ IG to audit 10% of VAWA grantees annually and imposes penalties for those found to be abusing the system.
The bill 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. The funding levels are the same as the Senate-passed bill.
The House bill includes provisions that prevent fraud and abuse in the immigration process. H.R. 4970 ensures that U-Visas are limited to those who help law enforcement get dangerous criminals off the streets by providing 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. CBO estimates that this provision will save taxpayers over $400 million.
For more information about the reauthorization of VAWA, please visit the House Judiciary Committee website. To access the manager's amendment to the bill, please visit the House Rules Committee website.