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

VAWA Update: There is Still Time to Act!

Nothing About Us Without Us 2012 signThere is still time to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 112th Congressional Session. Advocates continue to try to convince Republican House members to include all of the provisions in S. 1925, which passed in April 2012 by a 68-31 vote. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) worked with bi-partisan leadership to create legislation that included new provisions to assist the LGBT community, the immigrant community and the Native American community. The House version, H. R. 4970, sponsored by Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL) strips away all of the new provisions. After losing her primary in Florida, Representative Adams will not return to Congress and the bill was given to House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) to negotiate a final version. 

Both versions of the bill were written with your assistance and include provisions that will assist with all aspects of care for people with disabilities who are victims of crime. But it is the Senate version, S. 1925, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that we want to see President Obama sign into law.  Thank you for all of your hard work advocating for the passage of a fair reauthorization of VAWA.

The negotiations have fostered introduction of H.R. 6625. Introduced on December 3 by Representative Issa (R-CA) and some of his Republican colleagues, H.R. 6625 is the Violence Against Indian Women Act and contains compromise solutions to help address opponents’ constitutional concerns and move VAWA forward.  The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence against Women (NTF) praises Representative Issa’s leadership and is committed to working with him and other House and Senate Republicans to enact these provisions. 

As a member of NTF, NCIL continues advocacy efforts for the inclusion of the Native American provision and now passage of H.R. 6625. This legislation would allow Native American victims to bring their perpetrators to criminal court through the Tribal Court systems. The law requires that State Attorney Generals (AG) not local or state prosecutors file charges on non-Native American perpetrators. Research shows that most AGs are unlikely to file these charges in such cases.

The provision written for reauthorization of VAWA would allow Tribal Courts around the country the ability to use their legal system of arrest and prosecution for Native American victims of domestic violence. Tribal courts are formalized systems established by American Indian and Alaska Native tribes for resolving criminal and other legal matters. Empowerment of Tribal Courts dates back to 1883. Learn more about these courts.

NCIL is a social justice advocacy organization fighting for the rights of people with disabilities.  We also respect the fact that people with disabilities are diverse in culture, race, religion and sexual orientation, and therefore we oppose H.R. 4970.

Act Now

There is still time and the time is now to advocate for passage of VAWA! We need you to contact Congress! Representative Issa has given a path forward that allows VAWA to protect Native American victims. But House leadership needs to hear from you.

Call your House Representatives and tell them: “I want you to accept the compromise of H.R. 6625 and pass a VAWA that protects all victims in the 112th Congress, before the end of this year!”

Then we need to convince Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to support the compromise provisions so that VAWA can protect all victims. So call them and tell them the same thing!

  • Speaker Boehner: 202-225-6205
  • Leader Cantor: 202-225-2815

Follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #VAWA and #VAWA4ALL. We will keep you updated!

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

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