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Action Alert: Appropriations Requests to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence
Monday, March 14, 2016
Building on last week's action alert, we have recently learned about two more appropriations letters circulating in the House of Representatives regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding levels for programs of vital importance to victims of domestic violence. 

These "Dear Colleague" letters, which are sent in the House and Senate to their respective Appropriations Committees, highlight which programs members believe are vital to their constituents. The more cosigners a letter gets, the more attention it may receive from the Committee.

With tight budget caps and a difficult appropriations process expected ahead, it is crucial that these letters get as many cosigners as possible.

Before each letter's deadline as noted below, we ask that you contact members of your House delegations and request them to sign onto both letters. Should you need help locating contact information for your representative(s), please click here.    
This letter is led by Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). VAWA and FVPSA are life-saving federal programs that have assisted millions of victims as they transition out of crisis situations. Even though these two programs make up the backbone of our nation's response to domestic and sexual violence, the programs' funding levels have not kept up with the demand for services. 

To ensure that these critical programs are able to continue preventing and addressing domestic and sexual violence, the letter requests that funding for VAWA, FVPSA, and related programs be maintained, and, for specific programs, increased. The ask for each program's funding level is outlined in the letter. 

The deadline for representatives to sign onto the letter is March 24th. Please click here to view a copy of the Dear Colleague and letter.  
This letter is led by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA). VOCA provides federal grants to fund essential services for victims of crime, including, but not limited to, victims of elder abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, sexual assault, and stalking. The Crime Victims Fund is financed by fines, forfeitures, and other penalties paid by federal criminal offenders. 

When the fund was established, legislators put a cap on how much could come out from the Fund each year to certify that it was not depleted too quickly; the cap is set during the appropriations process each year. Because deposits into the Fund have rapidly increased in recent years, the cap was raised in FY15 to $2.361 billion and in FY16 to $3.042 billion. Unfortunately, the Administration requested that the cap be set at $2 billion in their FY17 proposed budget, which greatly worries service providers that have been engaged in long-term planning as a result of funding increases. To ensure that victims are able to continue receiving critical services, the letter requests that the cap be set at least at $2.7 billion.

Furthermore, the letter requests that the Fund only be used for programs authorized under the VOCA statute. Supporters of the Fund were dismayed to learn that the 2016 budget deal used $389 million from the Fund for non-VOCA authorized programs, undermining the Fund's long-term viability and setting a dangerous precedent for the future. 

The deadline for representatives to sign onto the letter is March 17th. Please click here to view a copy of the Dear Colleague and letter.   

For further information, please contact Liz, Director of Government Affairs at 202-736-5881.