TAKE ACTION: There is a chance that the bipartisan, inclusive Senate-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (S. 47) could pass the House of Representatives tomorrow.
But, the completely unacceptable substitute VAWA, being pushed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash) as the sponsor, will be brought to the floor for a vote first. If the substitute fails, House members will then be able to vote yea or nay on the Senate-passed bill. We think we have the votes to defeat the substitute and pass the inclusive Senate bill, but we must have your help! We are so close now, with 201 co-sponsors and 19 House Republicans who signed a letter asking Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to allow the Senate bill to have a floor vote.
Please contact your House member, whether Democrat or Republican, and implore them to vote for the Senate-approved VAWA. The Senate version contains program improvements essential to bring protection and support to violence survivors who have not had access to services in the past.
Please make a call and send an email message right away, and don't forget to let them know that you are a voter in their district. Since we have only a few hours to reach House members, your calls and email messages must be sent today and early Thursday morning.
The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121, or you can look up your representative's D.C. office number at http://www.house.gov/representatives. Tell them to please: Vote NO on the "Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute" (the House leadership bill), and vote YES on final passage of the Senate-passed VAWA (which will be brought up if/when the House substitute fails). Then we need you to send a short email message; you can use the one we've provided or write one of your own.
BACKGROUND: Much has happened over the last week or so. We learned that the conservative House leadership, at the behest of Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), introduced a version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that omits many of the important provisions of the Senate version. Here are just a few of the omissions and revisions:
The House leadership bill:
» Omits the Senate-passed provisions assuring protections for LGBT survivors of violence;
» Provides non-Native batterers with additional tools to delay and frustrate swift justice in tribal court systems, and it restricts existing tribal authority to issue civil protection orders against all abusers -- the only local recourse that Native American women have against non-Native abusers;
» Drops the Senate-approved reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act;
» Completely drops the strengthened protections and security for students on college campuses; and
» Rolls back provisions in current law, undermining the provenance of the Office of Violence Against Women by moving it to another Department of Justice office, among many other harmful changes.