The Violence Against Women Act is up for reauthorization soon and naturally so, women’s rights groups are campaigning to have it brought back to the floor of Congress for a vote. Lobbyists for the act are worried however that some members of Congress won’t vote to reauthorize it to due to all the funding that goes along with VAWA, or vote to cut some of the funding for the act’s programs such as rape prevention, education, and health care. The act was reauthorized back in 2000, but this time around lobbyists are also confronted with the reality that members of Congress will be consumed in the Roberts confirmation hearing and vote. It would be a great disservice to the women and girls of this country if they not only had to deal with Roberts on the highest bench in the land, but the extinction of VAWA as well. I mean really, how many times can our elected officials send the women and girls of this country a big “fuck you” from the floor of Congress? (via Women’s eNews)
WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)–A coalition of anti-violence lobbyists is waging a massive grassroots campaign this month to turn up the heat on members of Congress who may be reluctant to pay for new programs to aid victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
“We need to make sure that the Violence Against Women Act gets to the floor for a vote . . . and that it’s complete and thorough,” said Juley Fulcher, director of Break the Cycle, a legal services group in Washington, D.C.
The legislation, initially passed in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000, expires Sept. 30. Potentially on the chopping block are proposed programs involving health care, housing, and rape prevention and education, as well as new provisions relating to economic security and immigrant protections. Most of the programs tied to criminal justice, on the other hand, are considered safe.
Getting the reauthorization passed by October could be tough. The Senate Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over the measure, will be consumed during much of September with hearings on John G. Roberts Jr., the Appeals Court judge nominated to fill the first vacancy on the Supreme Court in more than a decade.[...]
We already know that women will be screwed if he’s confirmed but let’s see if women will be screwed for a second time if the VAWA reauthorization fails on the floor of Congress. Because hey, it’s open-season on women’s rights apparently. A Justice Roberts and no more VAWA? A nice double-whammy for American women.
Lobbying Campaign Underway
To try to make that happen, a broad coalition of activists has launched a campaign to build pressure on lawmakers to grant all their items on their wish list.
The effort involves letter writing campaigns, lobbying visits in lawmakers’ district offices and at town hall meetings, and articles and commentaries in local newspapers.
A major focus of the push is a health care provision that was left out of the House bill. It would provide $105 million over the next five years to train and educate health professionals about sexual and domestic violence, foster public health responses to domestic violence and study effective interventions in the health care setting, according to the Denver-based National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.[...]
The House committee also left out language that would update federal stalking laws; permit states to use government dollars to provide short-term emergency benefits during work leaves; stiffen protections for Native American women; create a separate felony offense of domestic violence against a family member; and allow victims to take unpaid leave from their jobs to get medical or psychological attention, obtain emergency housing, and seek legal or law enforcement assistance, the coalition reports.[...]
Supporters Haven’t Lost Hope
Supporters of these new programs and protections haven’t lost hope, however.
House Republicans added some of the domestic violence programs to the Justice Department spending bill as a sweetener to enhance its chances of passing the Senate, a House aide said on the condition of anonymity. House lawmakers did not include funding for some other programs because they were not germane to the pending Justice Department bill, added Debbie Lee, managing director of the San Francisco-based Family Violence Prevention Fund.[...]
House proponents intend to attempt to restore at least some of the proposed programs left out of the bill that passed the Judiciary Committee with amendments or separate legislation during floor debate.[...]
Personally speaking, I’ve already signed an online petition to have VAWA reauthorized. That’s about as much as I can do because 1.) I’m broke so I can’t donate huge gobs of money or buy a plane ticket to D.C., 2.) don’t have a lot of time on my hands due to college, and 3.) I couldn’t lobby for anything if my life depended on it. I’m under the impression that it requires extensive training and education, and some life-experience wouldn’t hurt. The lobbyists for the VAWA’s reauthorization certainly have quite battle especially in dealing with having all of the act’s programs fully funded. Hopefully they will succeed because if the members of Congress confirm Roberts, the least they can do to not seem like such anti-women douchebags is to reauthorize VAWA. That would help take the sting off of Roberts’ confirmation just a tad-bit. Just a tad.