Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Urge House to Pass Inclusive, Bipartisan VAWA; Oppose House Leadership Substitute

 House Leadership introduces partisan VAWA that fails to protect all victims

Legislation will be before the House Rules Committee TODAY and debated on the House floor as early as WEDNESDAY

The House Leadership’s version of VAWA, which will be substituted for the Senate’s inclusive, comprehensive version of S.47, is a bill that excludes effective protections for LGBT, tribal, immigrant, and campus victims.  It will likely be on the House floor tomorrow or Thursday.  The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness strongly supports a bipartisan, inclusive VAWA reauthorization, such as the bipartisan Senate-passed S. 47, and opposes this House Leadership substitute bill.

Please email your Representatives and urge them to vote against the House Republican Leader’s substitute VAWA and ask them to vote for the field-approved VAWA that passed in the Senate with strong bipartisan support.  Send a message today!

The substitute bill is not the punitive House bill that the OPW opposed last year; nonetheless, this House version of the bill  fails victims in a number of critical ways:

  • Fails to include the protections for LGBT victims from the Senate bill
  • Removes important provisions added to the Senate bill to protect victims of human trafficking
  • Provides non-tribal batterers with additional tools to manipulate the justice system, takes away existing protections for Native women by limiting existing tribal power to issue civil orders of protection against non-Native abusers, while weakening protections for Native women
  • Contains harsh administrative penalties and hurdles for small struggling domestic violence and sexual assault programs and an additional layer of bureaucracy through the office of the Attorney General
  • Drops the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, which is included in the Senate bill, that improves the handling of sexual violence and intimate partner violence on college  campuses
  • Drops important provisions in the Senate bill that that work toward erasing the rape kit backlog
  • Weakens protections for victims in public housing
  • Drops the inclusion of “stalking” among the list of crimes covered by the U visa (a critical law enforcement tool that encourages immigrant victims to assist with the investigation or prosecution of certain enumerated crimes)
Seventy-eight Senators from both parties and over 1,300 local, state and national professional and policy organizations, including the PC(USA), support the Senate-passed bill as do law enforcement officials, health care professionals, community program and service providers, faith communities, and the tens of millions of survivors and their families, friends, and loved ones who rely on, have benefited from, and used the services and resources provided by the 19-year-old law which has now expired.

We must oppose this partisan substitute and instead pass the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA.  201 Democrats are sponsors of H.R. 11, the House replica of the Senate bill. Nineteen Republican Representatives have asked the House Republican leaders to pass a bipartisan bill that “reaches all victims” and dozens more Republicans support some or all of the Senate provisions that are not included in the Republican VAWA substitute.

Email your Representative Now!