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Sequestration Could Cut $20M From Violence Against Women Act Programs, DOJ Estimates

Sequestration Could Cut $20M From Violence Against Women Act Programs, DOJ Estimates

February 20, 2013 — More than $20 million would be lost from the Violence Against Women Act's programs if cuts under sequestration take effect, according to estimates by the Department of Justice, the Huffington Post reports.

The mandated automatic spending cuts call for a $1.6 billion reduction in DOJ funding. The department said that would prevent 35,927 victims of violence from obtaining shelter, legal assistance and services for children. The cuts also would result in a loss of domestic violence training for 34,248 police officers, prosecutors, judges and victim advocates.

The spending reductions would make the federal government "significantly less able to keep women, men and children safe from rape and abuse," according to DOJ.

In response to the report, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) urged fellow lawmakers to pass the Senate version (S 47) of the VAWA reauthorization bill. "I'm hoping for a sensible, bipartisan approach to looking at where we can make cuts that make sense and where we can keep programs that keep people safe and are responsible," she said (Bassett, Huffington Post, 2/15).

New York Times Editorial Urges VAWA Passage

In related news, a New York Times editorial states that the Senate's passage of a VAWA reauthorization bill "provided a refreshing demonstration of bipartisanship that the House would do well to emulate."

While the editorial acknowledges that "sticking points remain," it points out that one of the most controversial provisions -- which would have increased the number of visas available to immigrant woman who are abused -- has been dropped from the Senate version to "ease passage" of the bill.

"What should be an uncontroversial bill has been held up by Republicans over the Obama administration's proper insistence that contractors under the act afford victims access to a full range of reproductive health services," the editorial states.

It states that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is responsible for ensuring that the new legislation is not held up in the House. Seventeen Republican lawmakers have urged Boehner to call the measure to a vote, which signals "that the G.O.P.'s rejection by female voters in November is causing some rethinking," the editorial adds (New York Times, 2/15).