Senator Amy Klobuchar led 27 of her Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging him to include strong support and funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs in his 2022 budget.
The Senators highlighted the importance of prioritizing this funding in light of increased reports of domestic violence during the pandemic. While Congress passed a slate of emergency funding bills last year, VAWA programs have not received supplemental funding, making it more difficult for service providers to respond to the increased need for crisis intervention, legal services, and transitional housing.
“While the absence of supplemental funding has been challenging for all Department of Justice grantees, survivors of sexual assault and those from communities of color are in particular need.”
“The Department provides the primary source of sexual assault supportive services through the Sexual Assault Service Program and currently funds the only grant program for community-based organizations that provide services primarily focused on culturally specific communities,” the Senators wrote.
Biden was the original sponsor of the legislation in the Senate when it first passed in 1994.
A recent survey found that 89 percent of survivor-serving programs need emergency funding to respond to current requests from survivors for support and assistance. Like many of the consequences of this pandemic, the continued shortage of resources disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities, rural communities, and Alaskan Native and American Indian communities.
“We are very concerned that, as a result of the pandemic, cases of domestic violence and sexual assault have increased in communities across the country. Local law enforcement report more domestic violence-related calls and rape crisis centers are seeing increased need for services,” said the Senators. “The pandemic has also made it more difficult for service providers to respond to the increased need for crisis intervention, legal services, and transitional housing.”
The House is scheduled to take up a VAWA bill the week of March 15.