Stop Violence Against Women: Updates on VAWA and the Army Sexual Assault Database
December 13, 2005
Take Action on the Violence Against Women Act
Congress is back this week and maybe part of next week – and there is a sincere effort to craft a final VAWA 2005 that both the House and Senate can agree on, pass, and send to the President for a signature. Take just one moment to call the Senate and House leadership offices and tell them you expect them to get VAWA's differences worked out and passed!
If you haven't done so already, send an email to your Senators and Representative asking them to help expedite this process.
Advocates will deliver tens of thousands of petitions to the offices of the leadership and key VAWA sponsors on today, December 13. Thanks to all of you who signed and passed on these petitions. Great job!
Call the offices of the House and Senate leadership with this simple message: Please make sure that VAWA 2005 gets passed before you adjourn for this year. We must not allow services to be reduced and programs eliminated. Women, children and families are relying on you.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn), 202-224-3135
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill), 202-225-0600
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev), 202-224-5556
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal), 202-225-0100
Although VAWA's authorization ran out September 30 along with the funding for all government activities and programs, Congress voted to continue funding at last year's levels through December 17th. But without passage of VAWA 2005, no funding stability or cost of living increases are guaranteed and any new programs in the bill will be unable to get off the ground.
On Tuesday afternoon, October 4, the Senate passed its version of VAWA 2005, S. 1197, by a unanimous consent agreement, meaning that all of the Senators had no objections (or had withdrawn their objections) to the bill. A less comprehensive version of VAWA 2005 passed the House of Representatives on September 28 as H.R. 3402, the Department of Justice's yearly authorizing and funding bill
While the House version included reauthorization of crucial VAWA programs, it does not achieve all that is needed. At the last minute just before the vote, the Republican leadership dropped important provisions dealing with immigrants and women of color.
The Senate bill still includes many of these House-dropped provisions, but faced its own trimming as a key program was dropped that would have extended coverage for unemployment insurance to domestic violence survivors who lose their jobs as they hide or flee from violence.
Whenever there are differences between similar bills that are passed in the House and Senate a "conference committee" with representatives from both houses, must meet to work out the differences between the two bills and come up with one final bill before the President can sign it. Because the House bill is part of a larger Department of Justice bill, H.R. 3402, and the Senate bill, S. 1191, is free-standing, this makes holding a conference committee even more complicated . So your calls are very important to inspire the leadership to work even harder to make this happen!
Army Sexual Assault Database
Thousands of individuals and organizations sent comments to the Department of Defense Army's Privacy unit, protesting the proposed sexual assault database with its intrusive and damaging cataloguing of personal and privileged information about victims of sexual violence and rape in the military. Four organizations, led by NOW, asked their activists to send comments, including Stop Family Violence, the Miles Foundation and the Feminist Majority. In addition, congressmembers, led by Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), also sent comments. The deadline for comments was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and details about the Army's response to these comments will be coming in the weeks ahead.
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