Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019

Update on VAWA's Progress in Senate

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence ("NTF") serves as the non-partisan, non-governmental steward of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, first enacted in 1994 and periodically enhanced and reauthorized with Congress’ broad, bipartisan support.

The full membership of the NTF is comprised of a large and diverse group of national, tribal, state, territorial, local, and faith-based organizations committed to improving the responsiveness of VAWA to the urgent needs identified by the field to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, the bill that the House of Representatives passed with strong bipartisan support in April, was inspired and informed by this critical input from the field about what survivors most need.

In October, 700 organizations from across the country signed a letter calling on the Senate to pass H.R.1585 or to introduce and pass a substantially similar bill with key enhancements that has the support of the gender-based violence field.

The letter re-affirmed that any bill that is introduced in the Senate must:

●     make important improvements in prevention programming;

●     safeguard important protections that ensure all victims have access to safety and justice;

●     offer protections for survivors in federal, public, subsidized, and assisted housing and improve access to housing;

●    enhance the safety of tribal communities by removing barriers that prevent tribal governments from prosecuting crimes committed on tribal lands;

●     keep firearms out of the hands of adjudicated abusers and stalkers;

●     improve support for survivors who need assistance in rebuilding financially;

●     address the needs of underserved communities; and

●     improve the healthcare response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

In these intervening months since the House passed H.R. 1585, the NTF has engaged in detailed, thoughtful, and respectful discussions about the content of a possible Senate VAWA bill with Democratic and Republican offices with H.R. 1585 as the starting point.

In light of these careful efforts and the fact that hundreds of organizations working directly with survivors have unequivocally expressed their support for H.R. 1585 and, what’s more, for a bipartisan Senate bill, the NTF is deeply disappointed to learn that separate and likely divergent measures to reauthorize VAWA will shortly be introduced.

Last Thursday, Sen. Ernst, one of the hoped-for champions of a strong bipartisan Senate bill, made a floor statement in which she reported that negotiations had broken down and characterized H.R. 1585 as a partisan political statement, to the NTF’s great surprise and concern. She announced her intention to introduce her own proposal to reauthorize VAWA in the near future.

Sen. Ernst concluded, however, by reiterating that she remains “hopeful that we can continue to work in a bipartisan way” to reauthorize VAWA. The NTF welcomes and reciprocates this still-open door. We share that principled goal for VAWA 2019, as we have for all prior reauthorization cycles.

If separate bills are indeed introduced in the coming weeks to reauthorize VAWA, the NTF will evaluate each on its own merits, according to how close a companion it is to the bipartisan-endorsed H.R. 1585 and on its responsiveness to the needs identified by the field. Our analysis will continue to be independent of the political party of the proponents, and our advocacy will continue to appeal to all for bipartisan collaboration.

Senators, We call on you to act on VAWA

In April, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, with strong bipartisan support. Last month, 700 organizations from across the country signed a letter calling on the Senate to pass H.R.1585 or to introduce and pass a substantially similar bill with key enhancements that has the support of the gender-based violence field.

These national, state, regional, tribal, and local organizations re-affirmed that any bill that is introduced in the Senate must:

●     make important improvements in prevention programming;

●     safeguard important protections that ensure all victims have access to safety and justice;

●     offer protections for survivors in federal, public, subsidized, and assisted housing and improve access to housing;

●     expand jurisdiction for tribes to enforce justice on their own tribal lands to enhance the safety of tribal communities;

●     keep firearms out of the hands of adjudicated abusers and stalkers;

●     improve support for survivors who need assistance in rebuilding financially;

●     address the needs of underserved communities; and

●     improve the healthcare response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

It has been over 200 days since H.R. 1585 passed the House, and it is past time for the Senate to do its job to uphold its commitment to ending gender-based violence and pass a bill with these important protections for survivors.

Please contact Dorian Karp (dkarp@jwi.org), Rachel Graber (rgraber@ncadv.org), or Emily Dahl (edahl@nnedv.org) with questions.

Copy and Paste a Weekly Tweet in Support of VAWA!

On April 4th, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (VAWA), with strong bipartisan support. It is time for the Senate to take action on a substantially similar bill that maintains important protections for vulnerable survivors while making critical enhancements to prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

We must keep the pressure up on the Senate! Senators need to know their constituents care - and are watching!

We are asking you to post one tweet a week on WEDNESDAYS AT 3:00 PM EST/12:00 PST until the END OF AUGUST. You can COPY and PASTE tweets and graphics from THIS LIST or write your own! Hashtags are #VAWA2019 and #VAWA4All!

You can find your Senators’ social media handles here.

Don’t forget to add a weekly reminder to your calendar - with a link to the tweets!

With your help, we can get VAWA past the finish line!

ACTION ALERT: VAWA will be on the House floor first week of April!

It’s not too late to counter attacks against and to improve VAWA!  

Use our NEW toolkit to pressure Congress to do the right thing! Vote for H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019!  

Add your organization’s name to our sign-on letter in support of H.R.1585!

Please forward widely!

The House of Representatives is slated to vote next week on H.R.1585, the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, introduced by Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA-37) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01). H.R.1585 is a modest reauthorization bill that includes narrowly focused enhancements to address gaps identified by victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence and the people who work on the ground with them every day.

 

Please sign our ORGANIZATIONAL LETTER OF SUPPORT by Wednesday, April 3 to show Congress that organizations around the country care about this issue and support H.R.1585.

 

Then, use this NEW TOOLKIT to contact your Representative by phone, by email, or on social media. And don’t forget to write a letter to the editor or an op-ed! The toolkit contains scripts, talking points, a list of key enhancements, Tweets, Facebook posts, graphics, and letter-to-the editor and op-ed templates.

 

Also, in case you missed it, you can listen to a recording of last Thursday’s VAWA call explaining the contents of H.R.1585 HERE.

 

BACKGROUND:

When H.R.1585 went through the House Judiciary Committee, several Representatives tried to roll back vital VAWA protections by:

●       Allowing non-Natives to prey on Native women on Tribal lands with impunity;

●       Allowing publicly-funded domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers to discriminate against survivors who they don’t like and turn away vulnerable victims in need of protection and help; and

●       Taking money away from communities and giving it to organizations like the NRA to teach people how to use guns.

Instead of committing to improve VAWA to address the identified needs of victims and survivors through moderate enhancements, other lawmakers introduced a year-long ‘straight reauthorization of VAWA (with no improvements) that ignores the identified needs of survivors. Lawmakers need to take a principled stand and fight for improved access to safety and justice for victims and survivors. In the era of #MeToo, we have the opportunity to make meaningful positive change to protect and support all survivors - anything less is unacceptable.

 

If you have questions or want to report the outcome of your contacts with Members of Congress, please email rgraber@ncadv.org and dkarp@jwi.org.

ACTION ALERT: VAWA PROTECTIONS UNDER ATTACK!!!

Your members of Congress are home for the recess! Go to town hall meetings, write op-eds, call them, or use social media to get them to do the right thing!

PASS VAWA 2019 H.R. 1585 without adding any harmful restrictions. 

Then, join our call with Members of Congress and experts in the field on THURSDAY, MARCH 21 at 4:00 EST for the latest updates (see action item #5).

Please forward widely!

Two weeks ago, House Judiciary Crime subcommittee Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) introduced H.R.1585, the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019. H.R.1585 is a modest reauthorization bill that includes narrowly focused enhancements that address gaps identified by victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence and the people who work on the ground with them every day.

 

When H.R.1585 went through the House Judiciary Committee, several Representatives tried to roll back vital VAWA protections by:

●       Allowing non-Natives to prey on Native women on Tribal lands with impunity;

●       Allowing publicly-funded domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers to discriminate against survivors who they don’t like and turn away vulnerable victims in need of protection and help; and

●       Taking money away from communities and giving it to organizations like the NRA to teach people how to use guns.

 

Instead of committing to improve VAWA to address the identified needs of victims and survivors through moderate enhancements, other lawmakers introduced a year-long ‘straight reauthorization of VAWA (with no improvements) that ignores the identified needs of survivors. Lawmakers need to take a principled stand and fight for improved access to safety and justice for victims and survivors rather. Every moment Congress delays in passing much-needed updates puts more people at risk. In the era of #MeToo, we have the opportunity to make meaningful positive change to protect and support all survivors - anything less is unacceptable.

 

Congress must act NOW to pass H.R.1585!

 

There are five key things you can do to propel H.R.1585 forward today:

1.      Attend a town hall meeting or call your Representative right now and ask him/her to support H.R.1585. If they haven’t signed on as a co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 1585), ask them to do so immediately. It is particularly important to get support from Republican Representatives. If your Representative has signed on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 1585, please call them and thank them. Use this link to find your Representative and his/her contact information, and then check out this list to see if they have signed on to support VAWA yet. Click HERE for a sample script.

2.      Attend a town hall meeting or call your Senators and ask them to support a bill in the Senate similar to H.R.1585. The Senate is currently writing their own VAWA bill. We need to make sure the Senate bill is substantially similar to H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019. Use this link to find your Senators and their contact information. Click HERE for a sample script.

3.      Write an op-ed or letter to the editor for your local paper about the importance of reauthorizing VAWA with vital enhancements. Members of Congress and their staff closely monitor local media, and if your Representative knows that there is community support for H.R. 1585, they’re more likely to support it. Check out this great resource from The New York Times about how to write and submit an op-ed on an issue that matters to you. Click HERE for talking points.

4.      Contact your Members of Congress on social media. Make your support visible to everyone! Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks to contact your Members of Congress. You can find their Facebook accounts and Twitter handles here. Click HERE for sample posts and for images to share.

5.      Join a call to learn more about H.R.1585 and the path forward in the House. After contacting your Members of Congress, join Representatives Bass and Fitzpatrick, who introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, and experts in the field for a phone call for more information about what is in the bill and a discussion of what lies ahead. The call is on Thursday, March 21 at 4:00 EST. Click HERE to register.

If you have questions or want to report the outcome of your contacts with Members of Congress, please email rgraber@ncadv.org and dkarp@jwi.org.

 

ACTION ALERT: Call Your Members of Congress and Ask Them to Support H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019!!!

House Judiciary Crime subcommitte Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) have just introduced H.R.1585, the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019! This important legislation reauthorizes VAWA grant programs and makes modest yet vital enhancements to existing law. Among other things, H.R.1585:

● Invests in prevention;

● Ends impunity for non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands;

● Improves enforcement of court orders that require adjudicated domestic abusers to relinquish their firearms;

● Improves access to housing for victims and survivors;

● Protects victims of dating violence from firearm homicide;

● Helps survivors gain and maintain economic independence;

● Updates the federal definition of domestic violence for the purposes of VAWA grants only to acknowledge the full range of abuse victims suffer (does not impact the criminal definition of domestic violence); 

● Maintains existing protections for all survivors; and

● Improves the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

Call your REPRESENTATIVE now and tell them to SPONSOR H.R.1585

Then call your SENATORS and tell them the Senate needs to introduce a bill WITH THE PROVISIONS in H.R.1585 - half-measures such as a straight reauthorization are not acceptable, nor are rollbacks of existing protections for survivors!