Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) today hosted her second roundtable discussion this year with local leaders, victim advocates and shelter providers to gather consensus on priorities for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the nation's primary domestic violence statute. The roundtable was held at Mutual Ground in Aurora where Biggert joined representatives from Crisis Center for South Suburbia in Tinley Park, Family Shelter Services in Downers Grove, Guardian Angel Services in Joliet and the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV).
"Domestic violence can happen anywhere to anyone -- on a college campus, in a same-sex household, and in our local suburban communities," said Biggert. "The VAWA proposal that passed in the House last week failed to reflect what we've learned over the last five years in terms of keeping victims safe. Today's discussion is about moving forward together to get a bill that works for our community."
In 2005, Biggert played an integral role during the last reauthorization for VAWA, which expired in September 2011. At a February roundtable in Joliet, she reiterated her commitment to ensuring that Congress does not let VAWA programs languish. As part of that effort, Biggert offered an amendment to strengthen protections in the current House proposal, H.R. 4970, for LGBT individuals, immigrants, college students and others. While that amendment did not receive a vote, Biggert says she hopes to include her provisions in a final bill, which must be negotiated with the Senate. The Senate's VAWA bill, S. 1925, was approved in April with strong bipartisan support.
"The purpose of this roundtable is to reconvene, review where we are with the House and Senate versions of VAWA, and identify what works and what doesn't," said Biggert. "I want to bring local input to Washington so all our service providers can help anyone who comes through their doors. We simply cannot let VAWA become a victim of election-year gridlock."
"The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its members are very proud of Representative Biggert and her long-term support of building adequate responses to all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault," said Vickie Smith, ICADV Executive Director.
"I am grateful that Rep. Biggert is coming together once again with direct service providers to listen to what the needs of our communities are when it comes to violence against women," said Michelle Meyer, Mutual Ground Executive Director. "I am also pleased to know that Rep. Biggert is demonstrating a commitment to all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, not just a select few."