Urge your Senators to co-sponsor VAWA 2013 (S.47)!

Posted January 30, 2013

Last week, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Michael Crapo (R-ID) reintroduced strong bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The legislation is very similar (see description below) to their bipartisan bill that passed the Senate last year by a significant (68-31) margin – it would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence, including the immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and human trafficking that the Tahirih Justice Center serves.

Thanks to advocates’ hard work, in just one week the Senate’s VAWA bill (S. 47) already has 55 co-sponsors. Our goal is to get 60 co-sponsors by January 31st so that VAWA can move swiftly to the Senate floor for a bipartisan victory – and we need your help! If your Senator has not yet signed on to VAWA, please call them now and urge them to join as a co-sponsor. If they are already a co-sponsor, please call to say thanks. You can access an updated list of S. 47’s current co-sponsors and some possible additional co-sponsors here.

Action Item:
If you don’t see your Senator on the attached list of current co-sponsors, please call the Capitol switchboard at and ask the operator to connect you to your Senator’s office. If you don’t know who your Senators are, you can look them up here. When you’re connected to their offices, tell the person who answers the phone:

Background on VAWA:
The Senate could vote on VAWA as early as this week. When that happens, we want to ensure that the bill has the broad, bipartisan support it needs to pass swiftly.

VAWA is the cornerstone of our nation’s response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and because of VAWA, millions of victims have received lifesaving services and support. VAWA’s reauthorization provides an opportunity to build upon the successes of the current law by including key improvements to better protect and provide safety and access to justice for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT victims, as well as victims on college campuses and in communities of color. The current Senate bill includes these enhanced protections, provisions that were identified as critical priorities by advocates across the country and that received overwhelming bipartisan support last year in the Senate.

One provision from last year’s bill was not included – a modest increase in the number of “U visas” available to immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and certain other violent crimes who assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime (originally created by Congress in VAWA 2000). Increasing the number of U visas would help both victims and law enforcement. Unfortunately, that provision led to a technical objection and, in the interest of obtaining the swift reauthorization of VAWA, the Senate introduced the new VAWA bill without that provision. Other important provisions to help immigrant victims and their children from last year’s bill are included in S. 47, and we welcome Senator Leahy’s commitment to seek the U visa increase as part of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that Congress will shortly consider.

Another provision was added, the SAFER Act, S. 80, originally sponsored by Senators Leahy and Cornyn (R-TX) which passed unanimously in the Senate late last year and promotes the elimination of sexual assault evidence (rape kits) backlogs that could be used to prosecute offenders and solve cold cases.

Thank you for taking action to ensure the continued protection of women and girls from violence!