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The Holland Sentinel - Policy, Not Politics, Needed on Violence Against Women Act

Op-Ed

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Location: Washington, DC

By Representative Huizenga

We need to have programs in place to help women and children who have been abused, which is why I voted for the improved House version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The House VAWA reauthorization was the strongest and best suited legislation to help all women, by providing the resources they need to protect themselves, their children, and their families. The Senate version of VAWA contained several objectionable provisions and failed to deliver the services we owe women and children across America. The Senate bill excluded religious organizations that do not support abortion, specifically the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. which has a phenomenal record on battling human trafficking in America and across the globe. The Senate version also gutted funding for the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons that has led the U.S. effort to hold countries accountable for prosecuting labor and sex trafficking offenders as well as aiding victims. If the goal is to deliver effective and efficient services, we should not be dismissing organizations with proven track records of success or slashing funding for the lead agency.

The Senate bill also contained a potential constitutional issue pertaining to the due process of individuals in tribal courts on Indian reservations. Another source of concern with the Senate legislation was the extra legal requirements put in place making it more difficult, not simpler to access necessary resources such as shelters and other community organizations. Lastly, the lack of oversight requirements for VAWA in the Senate bill is also troubling. The House version employed stricter measures to ensure nearly all of the federal funding went to help victims not pay for office supplies and staff salary. The answer isn't simply throwing money at the situation and hoping it solves the problem. The key is the delivery of the federal assistance and the efficiency in which the resources and services are administered to individuals and communities that need them. The Senate bill falls woefully short. Americans deserve better results when taxpayer dollars are being used, no matter how worthy the cause.

The reauthorization of VAWA should have been done in a manner that puts people, not politics first. Going forward, what is needed on this issue is a pragmatic discussion that leads to the creation of the best possible policy solution and that is not what the Senate legislation provided. That is why I voted in support of the House reauthorization and against the Senate's.


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