13th District Congressman Rodney Davis recently joined 114 bipartisan colleagues across both houses of Congress asking for additional help in future Coronavirus relief for domestic violence programs. The letter was sent to leadership in both Houses asking for re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The VAWA Act was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in September 1994 and has been reauthorized several times with various provisions and controversies added to its language along the way. The bill expired in its current form in November 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked the bill until significant other language is added to strip gun rights from dating partners accused of domestic violence in a relationship.
Davis says with the stay at home orders in place around the nation, the debate needs to end and the act needs to be reauthorized to protect women during a time where domestic violence may swell. Davis says the bill is working. “There is always areas where folks are going to want to update provisions, but this is one bill that continues to get overwhelming bi-partisan support. We think it’s a good message to send, especially at a time where there is more concern raised every day during this crisis about the mental health and well-being of individuals and families, and also the increased possibility of domestic violence because people are unable to leave their homes.”
Davis says the language needs to be reauthorized so that the current amount of budgeted money through the Department of Justice can continue to domestic violence shelters unimpeded during the pandemic. He said he doesn’t believe more money is needed to be added to additional pandemic economic packages. “My preference for Phase 4 [of the CARES Act] would be to limit the spending right now to just boosting up the Paycheck Protection Program. Frankly, it’s the only pot of money from the Phase 3 bill that we passed that has run out of money. Let’s let the dollars that we’ve implemented already to go to our states and local governments, to our election authorities, and others. Let’s make sure those dollars get disbursed out into our communities before we start determining where we spend more tax dollars in this fight against COVID-19.”
The Dove Domestic Violence Program in Decatur and other shelters in the state support concerns that the federal dollars need to continue rolling in during the pandemic. Davis said in a press release that the federal dollars would supplement what the State of Illinois has already done with state relief packages for domestic violence shelters around the state.