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Federal Legislative Priorities
Federal Funding Update April 30, 2013
- Congress passed a Continuing Resolution on March 20th
- Most Department of Justice programs were level funded, though funding was increased for the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) and the Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Assistance Program.
- VOCA cap increased from $705 million to $730 million (In 2000, Congress imposed a limit or cap on the fund in order to ensure funds remain available for use in future years. The limit is on the amount that can be obligated or taken from the fund. The cap is designed to ensure that funds are not spent all in one year, but remain available for use in future years. However, with the growing demand for services nationwide, the cap must be high enough to cover the increased costs.)
- Rape Prevention Education (RPE) and the sex offense set-aside were level-funded
- The 2014 Appropriations process has begun, with House and Senate members offering their funding priorities. The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence’s funding priorities and amounts are as follows:
•SASP $35 million
•VOCA $1 billion
•RPE $40 million
•Sex offense set-aside $7 million
Sequestration, Rescissions and VAWA Impact on Funding Levels –
- Rescission is a cancellation of budget authority previously approved by Congress
- Sequestration was agreed upon by the President and Congress in the effect that they didn’t balance the budget and its effect is a 5% across-the-board cut to federal spending.
- Sequestration results in a 5% across the board cut to all OVW programs; these cuts will be experienced next year.
- The 5% cut to RPE funding will be experienced now.
- VOCA increase should mitigate impacts, but how much it will do so remains unknown at this time.
- Sequestration should not impact the sex offense set-aside administered at the federal level by the CDC and, at the state level, by the Department of Health.
- The Department of Justice has asked its programs and divisions to reduce administrative and other spending in order to minimize the impact on direct services/programs. Additionally, DOJ must conduct an assessment to better understand the extent to which DOJ grant programs overlap with one another and determine if grant programs may be consolidated to mitigate the risk of unnecessary duplication.
- All federal agencies whose budgets are in the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations subcommittee will experience 1.9% rescission, including the Department of Justice. The rescission has impacted the recently released solicitation for technical assistance grants as OVW has already revised this just-released solicitation to reduce the number and type of technical assistance projects they will fund.
Federal Policy Update November 29, 2012
Lame Duck Session of Congress
The Violence Against Women Act
Congress, now in what is called its “lame duck” session, has just a few weeks left to pass a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). If Congress does not pass VAWA by December 31st, the whole legislative process will have to start again. While VAWA programs can still be funded through the appropriations process even if VAWA remains unauthorized this year, policy enhancements with broad bipartisan support that will improve the criminal justice response to sexual assault, protect victims of sexual violence in public housing, focus on addressing domestic violence homicides, and make campuses safer would be lost for now. While approximately 80-90% of the bills in the House and Senate are the same, the two chambers had reached gridlock before the election on provisions for immigrant, LGBTQ, and Native victims. Advocates held a “National Day of Action for VAWA” on November 14th to demonstrate their desire to see legislation finalized this year.
The Fiscal Cliff and Sequestration
In August 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The BCA authorized raising the federal debt ceiling, established caps on discretionary spending and put a process in place to reduce the federal deficit. As part of this process, the BCA created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or "Super Committee." The Super Committee was charged with developing a plan by November 2011 to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years, beginning in calendar year 2013. Unfortunately, the Committee failed to produce a bill identifying the budgetary savings prescribed in the BCA, triggering an automatic spending reduction process known as "sequestration." Congress and the White House are currently focused on negotiations to avert “sequestration,” the across-the-board spending reductions, and the “fiscal cliff” which refers to those reductions plus the expiration of previous tax cuts which would result in tax increases. If Congress does not reach a compromise this year, sequestration will take effect January 2, 2013 and will require $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts over ten years: 50 percent from defense spending and 50 percent from domestic spending, excluding Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, and low-income entitlement programs. One of the key issues in terms of negotiations is the President’s desire to raise income taxes on the top 2% of earners. Advocates have been working with Congress to help them understand the impact of sequestration on federal victim services and prevention programs.
The Federal Budget
Currently, a continuing resolution is in effect to fund federal programs through March 2013. Work continues on an omnibus appropriations bill that would continue federal spending through September 30, 2013. Whether or not Congress will complete the omnibus appropriations bill during the lame duck session remains an unknown.
Federal Legislative Priorities
FCASV is excited about the success of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence to secure an $8 million increase in the Sexual Assault Services Program for FY 2012 from $15 million to $23 million. Additionally the Rape Prevention Education Program (RPE) was level funded and the Preventive Health and Health Services Block grant was funded at $80 million. This means that the $7 million sex offense set-aside will be funded (at the same level) this year (FY 12).
On November 30, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) including exciting provisions to strengthen the criminal justice response to sexual assault and public housing protections for victims of sexual assault. House champions, Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX) and John Conyers (D-MI) are working with advocates in preparation for introducing legislation in the House. One way to follow the progress of VAWA is to visit the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women Facebook page.
On December 14th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the initial findings of the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). The full 124-page report is available on the CDC website. This large-scale, ongoing study is based on a nationally-representative telephone survey that collects detailed information on sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization of adult women and men in the United States. The survey collects data on past-year experiences of violence as well as lifetime experiences of violence. The 2010 survey is the first year of the survey and provides baseline data that will be used to track trends in sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence. NISVS also provides the first-ever simultaneous national and state-level lifetime prevalence estimates of violence for all states demonstrating that:
- Nearly 1 in 6 women in Florida have been raped in their lifetime and 42% have experienced other forms of sexual violence.
- 20% of men in Florida have experienced a form of sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime.