Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Congress must act to help curb violence against women

For the past year, I’ve represented the 1st District of Oregon in Congress. One thing I’ve learned is that the rumors are true: There is too much gridlock and partisanship when what we really need is collaboration and compromise.

One of the most unfortunate consequences of this hyper-partisanship has been the failure to pass an updated Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which up until recently has enjoyed wide bipartisan support. Since being enacted in 1994, VAWA has helped cut the rate of domestic violence in half by providing victims with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services. 

A 2012 analysis shows that more than 20,000 requests for shelter in Oregon could not be met during the previous year.

It’s clear that real reforms to strengthen VAWA are needed right away, which is why I joined more than 200 Congressional colleagues to support a renewed effort to pass a stronger Violence Against Women Act.

Last year, this legislation easily passed the U.S. Senate with a bipartisan vote. Unfortunately, when it came to the House several important protections were stripped from the bill, resulting in its failure to pass both chambers. This is unacceptable at a time when so many women in Oregon and across the country are in need of improved services.

Last year Oregon received $9.4 million in federal funding through VAWA to enforce violence prevention laws, hold perpetrators accountable, and care for victims. The updated Violence Against Women Act will extend this successful program as well as continue grants for transitional housing, legal assistance, and youth violence prevention programs.

This bill also protects underserved communities where rates of violence against women are high. It contains new provisions to stop violence against women in tribal communities, and protects immigrant communities with a strengthened U Visa program that in special cases provides temporary legal status and work eligibility to victims of abuse.

Finally, the bill includes clear civil rights protections to ensure that nobody can be denied services based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.

In tough economic times, we also need to make sure we are using public resources wisely. That’s why the new VAWA makes tough choices to reduce bureaucracy and administrative costs. It consolidates 13 existing programs into four, helping cut costs by nearly 17 percent.

The bill also incorporates new accountability measures, including strict audit standards, and restrictions on executive pay within the organizations that execute VAWA programs.

The Violence Against Women Act offers the smart reforms we need to stop violence against thousands of women in Oregon and across the country, and that’s why extending and strengthening it is one of my top priorities for 2013. The new legislation won Senate approval  last week on a 78-22 vote and now awaits action by the House.

Democrat Suzanne Bonamici represents Oregon’s 1st District in Congress, which includes Washington County.




Local Weather

Fair

49°F

Hillsboro

Fair

Humidity: 77%

Wind: 0 mph

  • 20 Apr 2014

    Cloudy 63°F 43°F

  • 21 Apr 2014

    Few Showers 63°F 43°F