Get VAWA Done now!S. 47 is a strong, bipartisan bill – with 61 sponsors (including BOTH California Senators Feinstein and Boxer!!). This bill is very similar to the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Leahy and Crapo last Congress and would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence.
In addition to many important improvements, such as addressing the criminal justice response to sexual assault, domestic violence homicides, housing needs, and campus victimization included in legislation last year, the current Senate bill also maintains enhanced protections for tribal, LGBT and immigrant victims. These provisions were identified as critical priorities by advocates across the country and received overwhelming bipartisan support last year in the Senate.
One provision from last year’s bill was not included- the modest increase in the number of U visas available to immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and certain other violent crimes who assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime (originally created by Congress in VAWA 2000). Increasing the number of U visas would help both victims and law enforcement. Unfortunately, that provision led to a technical objection from House Republican leaders and, in the interest of obtaining the swift reauthorization of VAWA, the Senate introduced the new VAWA bill without that provision in order to avoid any initial technical obstacles. Other important provisions to help immigrant victims and their children from last year’s bill are included in S. 47. The National Task Force and Senator Leahy will also be working hard to include the U visa increase in the comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will soon be considered by Congress.
Another provision was added, the SAFER Act, S. 80, originally sponsored by Leahy and Cornyn (R-TX) which passed unanimously in the Senate late last year and promotes the elimination of sexual assault evidence (rape kits) backlogs that could be used to prosecute offenders and solve cold cases.
Sequence of events for the week:
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled floor discussion to begin this afternoon (Monday, February 4).
Then, after two days of party “retreats” (i.e. closed door meetings) VAWA will come up again on Thursday, February 7 for a formal vote.
Next? This bill will move on to the House of Representatives, where it will likely face a number of challenges (be prepared to mobilize for this next step!)
How can you work to insure that VAWA is passed in the Senate this week?
Join our “We need VAWA because…” campaign on Facebook and Instagram! Tag your photos on Instragram with #VAWA or submit your photos via email to our partners from The Leadership Conference Education Fund at Make sure to include your city and state name and your Senators’ and representative’s names in your statement so that your Senators/Representative knows that their state/district cares about VAWA.
* If you are not currently using Twitter, contact CALCASA and we can show you how to set up an account and get tweeting!
In light of President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address, we will be holding a “State of the VAWA” Twitter Chat on Monday, February 11th at 2pm EST to answer questions and engage the public in a dialogue about the importance of an inclusive VAWA. Send your questions to @NTFVAWA using #VAWAchat, and participate in the conversation on February 11th.
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