The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will keep thousands of domestic violence shelters and violence prevention programs up and running, as well as a national domestic violence hotline that answers 142,000 calls per year. Despite bipartisan support, Republican leaders have made VAWA a political football and have not yet allowed it to come to a vote in the Senate. Women’s rights leaders and Democratic women Congressional leaders held a press conference this morning to press for Senate scheduling of and immediate action on this landmark legislation. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) spoke at this morning’s conference, along with Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority and representatives from NOW, NOW LDEF, National Council of Negro Women, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Coalition of Women’s Organizations, National Council of Jewish Women, and the American Association of University Women.
House and Senate conferees on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act are in negotiations about amending the Act to include VAWA. The Trafficking Act would provide new penalties for international traffickers of women and children and provides assistance for trafficking victims. The Trafficking Act has bipartisan support, as does VAWA.