Advocates Urge Full Funding for VAWA

Congress is working right now on the Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bills that fund critical programs in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). As early as next week, members of the House of Representatives will send the appropriations subcommittees their budget priorities. Senators will do the same very soon.

VAWA programs in the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) budget are at the core of advocates’ response to violence, and full funding totals $320 million. Full funding for VAWA programs in the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) budget totals $683 million.

Also essential is the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund, a key non-taxpayer funded source of support for services that help victims cope with the trauma and aftermath of violent crime. President Bush’s budget again proposes eliminating the balance of the VOCA Fund. Advocates are urging Congress to protect VOCA funds and provide a one-time increase in the cap of $375 million.

Several members of the House and Senate have come forward to champion funding for VAWA programs. Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) are circulating a sign-on letter addressed to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It calls for full funding for VAWA programs in Congress’ FY 2008 Budget. In the House, Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX), co-chairs of the House Victim’s Rights Caucus, and Lois Capps (D-CA), a co-chair of the House Women’s Caucus, are circulating a similar sign-on letter.

Representatives must sign-on to the letter by Wednesday, March 14. Members of the Senate should also sign on as soon as possible, because their appropriations deadlines are coming up quickly.

Members of Congress need to hear from advocates, so they know their constituents want them to fund violence prevention programs and agencies serving victims of domestic, sexual and dating violence. Now is the time to contact your Representative and Senators to urge them to sign-on in support of full funding for VAWA programs in FY 2008.

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