Bush Budget Threatens Violence Prevention Programs

Advocates are deeply concerned about President Bush’s FY09 budget proposal, in which he asks Congress to slash funding by more than $100 million for U.S. Department of Justice programs to address and prevent violence against women. The President also would turn all funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into a block grant.

If Congress agrees, the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women would not have to abide by legislation that spells out how much money is spent on various types of programs. The President proposes to give smaller, related programs funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services level funding or small decreases.

“This budget is irresponsible and could put the lives of women and children at risk,” FVPF President Esta Soler said. “VAWA has dramatically improved our nation’s response to violence against women and their families. We need to continue and enhance that work. We will ask Members of Congress to reject this proposal and maintain our nation’s commitment to the groundbreaking violence prevention programs that were funded for the first time last year.”

The Administration’s FY09 budget is similar to its FY08 budget proposal, but with more drastic cuts. While Congress rejected last year’s proposal, there is concern that rising budget deficits and fiscal pressure may make this a more difficult fight.

“The Administration’s budget for Violence Against Women Act programs is an outrage,” Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) said in a news release. “Domestic violence impacts one in every four women, yet the Administration proposes cutting spending by almost a third. It’s time to spend more, not less on our nation’s communities.”

Particularly critical are new programs created in the reauthorization of VAWA in 2005. New programs for children exposed to domestic violence and youth who are victims of physical and sexual violence were funded last year for the first time, as was a new program to engage men and youth in prevention. “We must not turn back the clock on our efforts to stop violence against women and children,” Soler added. “We have finally begun to see drops in violence against adult women, but the next generation is not faring as well. We must redouble our efforts to end this scourge once and for all.”

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