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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

Kuster, Olson, Moore, McMorris Rodgers, Speier Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging Funding that Addresses and Prevents Sexual Violence

Dec 9, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – On Friday, Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02), Pete Olson (TX-22), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), and Jackie Speier (CA-14) led a bipartisan group of 58 Members of Congress in sending a letter to House conferees negotiating government spending levels for Fiscal Year 2020. The letter calls for robust funding of the programs operating under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA), and Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). These programs are the pillars of federal efforts to prevent sexual and domestic violence, educate youth about abuse and violent behavior, and provide resources as survivors seek safety and begin to rebuild their lives.     

The letter specifically asks House Appropriators to:

1.) Fund FVPSA, the first and only dedicated funding source for domestic violence services, at the House-set level of $175 million, an increase of more than $10 million from Fiscal Year 2019. The Senate has not yet set a funding level for FVPSA.

2.) Fund VAWA, groundbreaking legislation that supports survivors -- including marginalized communities and those who live in rural, remote areas, at $590.5 million. This figure is over $90 million higher than what the Senate has proposed.

3.) Set the cap for VOCA, which directly serves victims of many types of crime at no cost to taxpayers, at an average of the last three years’ deposits into the Crime Victims Fund. This fund is sourced by federal seizures of collateral profits made as the result of crime, fines paid by criminals, forfeited bonds, and other such sources.  

“Providing early response, support services, and prevention programs to reduce domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking helps to reduce these costs and save large amounts of public dollars,” wrote the members. “Otherwise, funding will be spent responding to these crimes through law enforcement, health care, and homeless services, among other services. All three of these programs are essential and need to be funded at the House-passed funding levels.”

“As the largest network of domestic and sexual violence service providers proudly serving over 2.5 million women per year, YWCA understands the importance of maintaining robust funding to address and prevent sexual violence, particularly through VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO, YWCA USA. “At this critical juncture, we must work together to take steps to prevent sexual and domestic violence, educate youth about abuse and violent behavior, and provide resources for survivors and their families to ensure safety and rebuild their lives.”

The members reiterate their continued determination to prevent such horrific acts of violence, and support those who have already been affected. Representatives Kuster and Speier are founders and co-chairs of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, of which Representative McMorris Rodgers is also a member. The Task Force works to raise awareness and propose solutions to the challenges posed by sexual violence, and areas of its focus include: K-12 education, campus sexual violence, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, improved data and collection, online harassment, and law enforcement training. Representative Olson co-chairs the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, a bipartisan caucus that represents the interests of victims of crime, generates awareness about violent and sexual crime in our country and works to increase resources available to law enforcement to combat the problem. Representative Moore is a founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence, a caucus bringing together members of Congress and key stakeholders dedicated to ending domestic violence, creating innovative prevention strategies, and strengthening resources for survivors and their children.

In addition to these members, the letter was signed by: Colin Z. Allred (TX-32), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Mike Bost (IL-12), Susan W. Brooks (IN-05), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Judy Chu (CA-27), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01) Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Bill Foster (IL-11), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Deb A. Haaland (NM-01), John Katko (NY-24), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), Darin LaHood (IL-18), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Al Lawson, Jr. (FL-05), Susie Lee (NV-03), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Daniel W. Lipinski (IL-03), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Michael T. McCaul (TX-10), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Scott H. Peters (CA-52) Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-AL), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Adam Smith (WA-09), Darren Soto (FL-09), Steve Stivers (OH-15), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Michael R. Turner (OH-10), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Peter Welch (VT-AL), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).  

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

December 6, 2019

The Honorable Jose Serrano                                       The Honorable Robert Aderholt                      

Chair                                                                           Ranking Member                                               

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,                        Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,   

Science, and Related Agencies                                   Science, and Related Agencies                   

House Committee on Appropriations                         House Committee on Appropriations   

Washington, DC 20515                                              Washington, DC 20515                                                                                                         

 

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro                                    The Honorable Tom Cole                      

Chair                                                                           Ranking Member                                               

Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and                         Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and   

Human Services and Education                                 Human Services and Education                    

House Committee on Appropriations                         House Committee on Appropriations   

Washington, DC 20515                                              Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Serrano, Chairwoman DeLauro, Ranking Member Aderholt and Ranking Member Cole:

As final negotiations on FY 2020 appropriations are underway, we thank you and encourage you to maintain the House-passed funding levels for vital programs that address domestic and sexual violence, in particular the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). These key federal funding streams are the cornerstones to ending gender-based violence.

Violence against women is contrary to our values and we have a responsibility to prevent and address it. However, there is also an economic case for funding these key programs. Each year, intimate partner violence generates more than $9.05 billion in costs for victims, private companies, and states, including $1.34 billion (8 million days) lost from work. Sexual violence is also very costly. Recent estimates put the cost of rape at $122,461 per victim, including medical costs, lost productivity, criminal justice activities, and other costs.

Providing early response, support services, and prevention programs to reduce domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking helps to reduce these costs and save large amounts of public dollars. Otherwise, funding will be spent responding to these crimes through law enforcement, health care, and homeless services, among other services.

All three of these programs are essential and need to be funded at the House-passed funding levels. They all serve related but different purposes and fund different activities:

  1. Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Family Violence Prevention and Services Act is the first and only dedicated funding source for domestic violence services, and funds emergency shelters, crisis lines, counseling, victim assistance, and other vital services including specialized services for children exposed to domestic violence. We are grateful that the House voted to fully fund FVPSA at $175 million for an increase of $10.5 million over FY 2019. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet reported its Labor-HHS bill. 
  2. Each Violence Against Women Act program helps ensure that victims are safe, offenders are held accountable, and communities are secure. The House funded VAWA at $590.50 million and the Senate funded VAWA at $500 million. We urge you to push for the higher numbers.
    • For example, the Rural Services program helps women living in rural and isolated areas receive services, with over 25% of these victims living more than 40 miles from the closest service provider. In order to address this disparity, the House approved $50 million for the Rural program, while the Senate has approved $43.5 million.
    • Another program that received higher funding in the House was the Consolidated Youth and Prevention Program which helps children exposed to violence and abuse, prevents teen dating violence, and engages men and boys in an effort to combat violence against women and girls. To support these efforts, the House approved $20 million for the Consolidated Youth program, while the Senate has approved $11 million.
    • The need can be made for every VAWA program from the largest programs such as STOP Grants that go out to states, the Sexual Assault Services Program, or the Transitional Housing Program. There is also a great need for more resources to the smallest programs such as services for disabled, elderly, and specific populations such as American Indian and Alaska Native victims. VAWA also funds resource centers such as the Workplace Resource Center to help employers address and prevent violence and abuse, including harassment in the workplace, and critically important public health programs at HHS such as the Rape Prevention and Education Program and Violence Against Women Health State Partnership Initiative.
  3. Finally, VOCA uses non-taxpayer money from the Crime Victims Fund for programs that directly serve victims of all types of crimes, including by providing domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and child abuse treatment programs for victims of domestic violence. We urge you to set the VOCA cap at an average of the past three years’ deposits into the VOCA account, maintain a tribal funding stream in VOCA not to transfer funds from VOCA to fund other programs.

Again, we are grateful the leadership you have exhibited in securing such strong funding to address and prevent this type of violence and abuse, and we ask that you do all in your power to maintain the House funding levels in the final appropriations legislation for FY 2020.  Please let us know how we can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

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