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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

VAWA Reauthorization Achieves Final Passage!

Just in time to celebrate Women’s History month, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has passed both Chambers of Congress. In a historic event, the House of Representatives passed the inclusive Senate VAWA bill, which encompasses prevention, protection and services for all victims. We ask that you thank the Congressional leaders who voted yes and shame those who voted no on this imperative legislation.

This victory has been over two years in the making. NCIL would like to congratulate and thank our members, coalition partners, our allies in Congress, and our Violence and Abuse Task Force.

NCIL’s Violence and Abuse Task Force contributed language for the legislation and lead a national advocacy outreach campaign to achieve this five year reauthorization. Jan Derry, Co-Chair of the Task Force, joined other NCIL Board members and staff on the Hill, advocating up until the final moments. Congratulations to the Violence and Abuse Task Force on a great campaign!

This bill includes updated provisions that protect the rights of LGBT persons, immigrants, and Native Americans. It also included new language that represents an opportunity for people with disabilities. A specialty grants section will provide funding to CILs across the nation through their state partnerships with Domestic Violence programs. These funds will allow CILs to provide technical assistance to first responders, law enforcement, shelter staff members, and others on how to assist people with disabilities. The bill will also provide states with funds to provide accessible shelters or find alternative protection for victims with disabilities. 

Thank you for all of your calls, emails, and social media outreach on this most important legislation. NCIL would also like to thank Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) for sponsoring S.47 and for their fearless leadership on achieving this reauthorization. We also thank the leaders in the House of Representatives who made this vote possible, including Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), sponsor of the House companion version, Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee Lynn Slaughter (D-NY), and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ). For more information, see the transcript from their February 26 press conference, which forced the vote on the floor. We also appreciate the fearless leadership of Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), one of seventeen republicans and the only female Representative to sign a letter to House leadership urging them to quickly pass VAWA (PDF).

Background

On February 12, 2013, the Senate passed S.47 by a 78-22 vote, with the support of every female Senator. See how your senator voted.

House Republican leaders created an alternative version of S.47 that removed the updated provisions to protect all. The first vote that took place yesterday in the House defeated this alternative version of VAWA by a vote of 166-257, with 56 Republicans saying no to their leadership. Two Democrats voted yes for this substitution. See how your Representatives voted.

The second vote that took place in the House yesterday was for the Senate version of VAWA and it passed 236-138. Unfortunately, eleven Republican Women Representatives voted against the bill. See how your Representative voted.

For more information on this work, contact Dara Baldwin, NCIL Policy Analyst, at dara@ncil.org!

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