Wednesday, October 05, 2005

VICTORY!!! Senate passes VAWA!

From the National Center for Victims of Crime - update sent on 10/5/05:
Last night, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (S.1197) by unanimous consent. The House of Representatives had previously passed its version of VAWA as part of the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3402). Passage of these bills was made possible by the hard work and unwavering dedication of advocates across the country. Your calls, letters, and e-mails in support of VAWA kept the pressure on Congress. Thank you for all of your hard work!

We are extremely grateful for our Senate champions who pressed on through several last-minute, seemingly insurmountable obstacles to get VAWA to the floor for a vote. Throughout the last year, Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) and their staffs worked tirelessly with us and our colleagues to craft a comprehensive VAWA bill and bring it to a vote in the Senate. Their dedication cannot be overstated.

The bill that passed the Senate is a strong bill that, like the House bill, includes authorizations for important existing VAWA programs such as STOP grants, the Rape Prevention and Education Grant program, Civil Legal Assistance grants, and the Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus. The bill also makes much-needed improvements to these grants. S.1197 also includes many new VAWA programs including the Sexual Assault Services Act (SASA), several grants aimed at serving youth victims of violence, and more health and prevention-oriented programs. In the next few days, our policy staff will be analyzing a few last-minute compromises made to get the Senate bill passed. We will send another update with more details as soon as possible.

Now the Senate and House VAWA bills must be considered by a conference committee to work out the differences between the two bills. We expect that grassroots support will be needed during the time the bill is in conference to ensure we get the best possible language in the compromise bill. Please stay tuned for upcoming action alerts and updates as the bill moves forward.

Again, thank you for your efforts. This is truly a victory for all of us and for all victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking!