The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (“NTF”) applauds Congress for their support for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The recently introduced bipartisan, bicameral funding bill appropriates a record $497.5 million for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the 2019 fiscal year and releases over $3 billion from the Crime Victims Fund, including almost $170 million for Native victims. Funding for vital programs to protect victims and survivors is secure until September 30th, the end of the federal fiscal year, by which time funding for the entire government must be renewed.
VAWA’s authorization was originally slated to lapse at midnight on September 30, 2018. Congress took the unusual step of extending its authorization three times in the series of short-term bills they passed to fund the government since the end of the previous fiscal year. While VAWA has not been extended again in the new appropriations bill, this does not impact its funding for the 2019 fiscal year since money has already been appropriated for this fiscal year. As happened when VAWA’s authorization expired between 2010 and 2013, we expect Congress to continue to fund VAWA while we work with them to develop and pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization that centers victims and includes targeted fixes and modest enhancements to improve survivors’ access to safety, security, and justice.
As with other laws, only the VAWA grant program authorizations expire - the underlying law and all the provisions that are not tied to specific funding levels do not expire. All legal protections for victims and survivors continue, including protections in federally-subsidized housing, special tribal jurisdiction, and protections for immigrant victims. Grant conditions that protect survivor confidentiality and safety remain intact.
The NTF has been working with Congress for over a year to craft and pass a strong VAWA reauthorization bill with critical enhancements, and we will continue to do this important work on behalf of victims and survivors. We rely on you and other advocates to support our work in Washington, DC by answering our call to rally when the time is right. We will be in contact as the process plays out with periodic updates and calls to activate.