CALCASA has been following the Violence Against Women Act, both the Senate version and the House version. The Senate version passed April 26. This version included provisions for immigrant, LGBTQ, and tribal communities, advancing the work that we as advocates do to protect survivors of intimate partner and domestic violence. The House version of VAWA, also called H.R. 4970, weakened provisions written into the Senate version and completely eliminated provisions for vulnerable communities (including immigrants, LGBTQ populations, and tribal communities). We at CALCASA, along with the National Task Force on advocated with representatives from California and throughout the country to vote no on H.R. 4970 but it passed yesterday, 222 “Yes” to 205 “No” votes. CALCASA will continue to partner with our national colleagues to fight for the provisions highlighted in the Senate version and will keep you updated as we move forward.
For more information on the vote yesterday, I’ve included the National Task Force’s Statement on the Passage of H.R. 4970.
National Task Force Statement on Passage of H.R. 4970
May 16, 2012
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women is a diverse coalition of thousands of national, state and local organizations and individuals across the country unified by our commitment to end violence against women. Today, we express our deep disappointment over the House of Representatives’ passage of H.R. 4970. This legislation weakens or deletes entirely some of the vital improvements in the “real VAWA” passed by the Senate last month by a resounding bipartisan vote of 68-31. Grace Huang, Public Policy Director of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence said, “We are devastated that provisions that will endanger vulnerable immigrant victims passed in the House today. For the first time in nearly 20 years, this bill would weaken crucial protections in VAWA for battered immigrants, putting them at risk of retaliation by their abusers and undermining law enforcement and public safety.” “Today’s vote ignored the reality of LGBT survivors of violence and would deny them the support and services that every survivor needs,” said Sharon Stapel, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which coordinates the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). “Native women aren’t safer as a result of the passage of H.R. 4970. In fact, the tribal provisions included in this bill create additional hurdles for Indian women seeking protection from violence on tribal lands, and that is unacceptable,” said Juana Majel-Dixon, 1st Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and co-chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women.
The House bill passed ignores the needs of vulnerable communities, rolls back years of progress aimed at protecting victim safety, weakens provisions in the Senate bill to protect victims in public housing and on college campuses, and strips the rights of community stakeholders to give input on VAWA programs. The bill has been soundly rejected as dangerous to victims by more than 325 diverse organizations and leaders representing millions of constituents throughout the country. Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said “The passage of H.R. 4970 ignores the expertise of hundreds of organizations working to end violence against women.” Moreover, the President issued a statement saying if presented with the bill, his senior advisors would recommend a veto.
Despite today’s 222-205 vote, we applaud the courage of the Republicans who crossed party lines to vote against this dangerous bill and the Democrats who stood with all victims of violence. The outcry from advocates from across the country resulted in significant bipartisan opposition to the bill and this swell of support will continue as the House and Senate meet in conference to reconcile the two bills. “On behalf of advocates and rape crisis centers, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence commits to working with all members of Congress to finalize VAWA legislation this year that upholds provisions in the Senate bill that ensure community stakeholders have a voice in the funding process and protect vulnerable populations while maintaining criminal justice improvements for victims of sexual assault,” commented Monika Johnson Hostler, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence President. The National Task Force will continue to work towards a strong, bipartisan final bill that builds on VAWA’s successes and strengthens protections for all victims of violence. “The best post-Mother’s Day gift that Members of Congress can give to their neighbors, daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers is to support a bipartisan VAWA that protects women from all backgrounds,” said Gloria Lau, YWCA USA CEO.
For updates from the National Task Force, please follow us on Twitter @NTFVAWA, on Facebook or visit 4vawa.org.