The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act programs through fiscal year 2009. The legislation increased funding for new rape crisis centers and increased grant money to organizations working on domestic violence issues.
However, an amendment to the legislation, sponsored by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), was passed and undermines VAWA’s authority to create programs for women of color and immigrants. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, strongly opposed the amendment, as did major domestic violence advocacy groups, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Family Violence Prevention Fund, Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, Legal Momentum and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women, and the NAACP. The amendment passed by a narrow margin of 225-191.
On the floor, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that the amendment would shortchange domestic violence prevention and treatment services that target women of color and immigrant victims of domestic violence. The amendment could still be removed in conference with the Senate as the two houses work out differences in the legislation.