VAWA (S. 1925) now has 61 sponsors – and while Congress is in recess, now is the time to talk with the senators and representatives in your state to urge them to support S. 1925. Tell them that it’s important to get VAWA passed asap without harmful or weakening amendments. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month so consider tying your meeting to the important improvements VAWA makes to respond to the crime of sexual assault.
You may have heard or seen reports about VAWA in the House. Gwen Moore (D-WI) made an important step forward last week when she introduced the Senate version of VAWA and asked that it be brought up during the budget discussions. That procedural vote failed but House women used the opportunity to have a brief floor discussion about the importance of VAWA.
During her floor speech Moore spoke powerfully of her own history as a survivor of sexual assault and teen rape – a moving kickoff for April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Moore’s bill is an important placeholder while Judiciary committee chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) and ranking member John Conyers (D-MI) work on drafting a bi-partisan bill aimed at passage this summer.
- Visit your senators in their district offices and urge them to sign on to S. 1925 or, if they are already supporting the bill, to thank them for their support and ask them to oppose any partisan attempts to trim or undermine the “real VAWA.” Ask your senators to touch base with Majority Leader Reid to get VAWA to the Senate floor asap. Ask your representatives to move VAWA forward ASAP in the House.
- Write a letter to the editor supporting VAWA and stating why it needs to go to the Senate floor (tips below!). This is a great time for letters and opinion pieces to appear in your local paper while the members are at home!
- Continue to contact Senator Reid and ask him to bring VAWA up for a vote the week of April 16.
- Contact Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and ask her to support the “real VAWA” and not a substitute that leaves out too many victims.
ACTION 1: Senators and representatives will be home for two weeks starting last Friday. If your Senator is one of the 39 who is NOT a sponsor of VAWA, find out where they will be during the break and/or call their office today and ask them to co-sponsor S. 1925. If they are unable or unwilling to add their name as a co-sponsor, ask them to at least vote for cloture (needs 60 votes) so that the bill can come to the Senate floor for amendments, debate and a final vote for passage. Ask your Representative to move VAWA through the House as soon as possible – because VAWA is expired and victims cannot wait.
Here is your message: “A lot of misinformation is being circulated by the bills detractors about S. 1925, the real VAWA. I want to set the record straight:
- Since VAWA first passed, the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men. VAWA has saved lives while saving money, saving $12.6 billion in its first 6 years alone.
- S. 1925 saves money by consolidating and repealing more than 15 programs, ensuring more funding will go directly to needed victim services rather than grant administration.
- S. 1925 adopts almost word-for-word the accountability measures developed by Senator Grassley for the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act.
- S. 1925 does not create “new victims” or support “special interests.” The real VAWA protects all victims of these crimes, regardless of their age, gender, race, citizenship, sexuality, or faith.
- Our nation must not say, "There are too many victims” or “You are not the ‘right’ kind of victim.” All victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking deserve help. That’s what S. 1925, the real VAWA, does. Please support VAWA’s reauthorization. Thank you.”
Please contact these senators – they are either former sponsors* or have expressed interest or support for VAWA currently or in the past:
- Cochran, Thad - (R - MS) (202) 224-5054 Judiciary LA: Carlisle Clarke, Women's Issues LA: Elyse Marcellino
- Cornyn, John - (R - TX) 202) 224-2934 Judiciary LA: Matt Johnson, Women's Issues LA: Michelle Chin
- Hutchison, Kay Bailey - (R - TX) (202) 224-5922 Judiciary and Women’s issues LA: Jenifer Healy
- Alexander, Lamar - (R – TN (202) 224-4944 Judiciary LA: Peter Oppenheim, Women's Issues LA: Mary-Sumpter Lapinski
- Enzi, Michael B. - (R - WY) (202) 224-3424 Judiciary LA: Wendy Gnehm, Women's Issues LA: Travis Jordan
- Graham, Lindsey - (R - SC) (202) 224-5972 Judiciary and Women’s Issues LA: Walt Kuhn
- Kyl, Jon - (R - AZ) (202) 224-4521 Judiciary LA: Stephen Higgins, Women's Issues LA: Elizabeth Maier
- Lugar, Richard G. - (R – IN) (202) 224-4814 Judiciary and Women’s Issues LA: Joe O'Donnell
- McConnell, Mitch - (R - KY) Minority Leader (202) 224-2541 Judiciary LA: Russell Coleman, Women’s, Native American and Child/Family Issues LA: Sarah Arbes
- Moran, Jerry - (R - KS) (202) 224-6521 Judiciary LA: Darby O'Donnell, Women: Brian Perkins, Native American Affairs: Jesse Rundle. Watch Sen. Moran's video.
- Portman, Rob - (R - OH) (202) 224-3353 Judiciary and Women’s Issues LA: Aja Brooks, Native American Affairs LA: Stephen Kittredge
- Risch, James E. - (R – ID (202) 224-2752 Judiciary LA: Brianne Miller,Women LA: Rebecca Cotton, Native American LA: Darren Parker
- Toomey, Patrick J. - (R - PA) (202) 224-4254 Judiciary & Women LA: Tessie Abraham, Native American Affairs LA: Mitch Vidovich
ACTION 2: Write a letter to the editor to get VAWA to the Senate Floor! Find suggested language below which you should feel free to edit and personalize. Click here to find media contacts in your area.
To The Editor:
The Violence Against Women Act, S. 1925, has 61 bipartisan sponsors including [your state and sponsoring Senators]. There are fewer than a dozen bills in Congress right now that have this type of bipartisan support. In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was a giant step forward for our nation and the Act is overdue for reauthorization. Yet, Senator Reid has yet to call it to the floor. We hope this is simply an oversight.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are pervasive social problems that must end. In fact, domestic violence and sexual assault affect everyone in [name of local community] in some way. VAWA’s passage meant that our federal government finally acknowledged the tremendous harm caused by these crimes and provided a critical investment to help victims. Evidence shows that this legislation works to stop violence and millions of families are better off as a result. We need to keep these provisions in place. As a society, we cannot go backwards.
In fact, we must go forward and protect all victims of violence – and S. 1925 does this. Many victims, women and men, have not been able to get help in the past and it is important to extend protections to victims of crime including immigrant victims who assist law enforcement, victims on tribal lands regardless of who assaults them, and all individuals regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The time has come to again reauthorize this critical legislation.
[Name, Title, Organization, Contact Info]
If you want to write you own Op Ed or Letter to the Editor, here are some tips from NTF.
Tips on Writing a Successful Op-ed Piece on VAWA Reauthorization
Most daily and weekly newspapers accept op-ed submissions for publication. They are called op-ed articles because they commonly appear on the opposite page from the editorial page. Longer than letters to the editor, op-ed pieces generally are between 500 and 700 words. Most newspapers publish op-ed guidelines, including maximum length and methods of submission, on their websites. Be sure to include contact information for the op-ed’s author or signatory on any submission. If a paper decides to publish an op-ed, they typically contact the submitter to verify its authenticity and to secure permission to print it. Note that papers usually reserve the right to edit any submission before publishing it.
Tips on writing an op-ed:
- Use short, simple sentences. Be simple without being simplistic.
- Avoid jargon or terms that only advocates would be familiar with.
- Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations (e.g. VAWA). Instead, spell it out or use terms like “legislation” or “Act.”
- Use colorful language, clichés, metaphors and/or analogies.
- Use absolute terms like “first-ever,” “never before,” and “second to none.”
- Explicitly support VAWA’s swift reauthorization.
- Consider a call to action. What can readers do should they feel compelled to take action after reading your op-ed?
- Without compromising confidentiality or safety, personalize the op-ed with a specific anecdote about how VAWA has helped an individual or group.
- Link the op-ed to a current news story – local, regional or national.
- If you use statistics or dollar amounts, make them meaningful. Large or small numbers are more meaningful when readers can connect them to something they already know. For example, “enough people to fill Valley High School’s football stadium,” or “the same amount of money the government spent on one dump truck.”
- Give VAWA a human face. Rather than getting into too many legislative details, it’s important for readers to understand that VAWA is more than words on a page; it affects people’s lives every day.
Suggested Outline for an Op-ed:
- Start with a short anecdote or a current news story commentary. The first few sentences are critical to catching a reader’s interest and compelling them to read more.
- Make your most important point in the first or second paragraph.
- Describe two or three supporting points in the following paragraphs. Use meaningful facts, statistics, and studies to support your points.
- Conclude with a paragraph that draws the piece together and links to your opening anecdote or current events commentary.
ACTION 3: S. 1925 has enough sponsors to go to the Senate floor for a vote without a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has the power to schedule VAWA for a vote. Ask him to do it ASAP.
- If you are not from Nevada, call 202-224-3542 (D.C. office).
- If you are from Nevada, call 775-686-5750 (Reno office).
ACTION 4: It has been reported that former VAWA sponsor and retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will be doing the bidding of the Senate Judiciary Republicans and offering a weakening substitute to S. 1925 when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.
According to a March 28 article in Congressional Quarterly Today: “The emerging GOP plan would omit proposals to broaden tribal authority to enforce restraining orders, relax limits on temporary U visas for immigrant women who have been victims of domestic violence and ban discrimination by grantees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. “We’re looking for a reauthorization that is as close as we can keep it to a reauthorization,” Hutchison said. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary panel’s top Republican and an outspoken opponent of Leahy’s bill, is deferring to Hutchison, the only woman in the Senate who is not a cosponsor of the legislation.”
“If Senator Hutchison opposes VAWA, S.1925, and offers Senator Grassley’s substitute she will be letting down victims of violence not just in Texas but all over the nation. Immigrant women, Native women and LGBT victims of domestic and sexual violence have long been under-served and ill-served and S. 1925 simply attempts to address this oversight and help more girls and women, boys and men.”
Contact information for Hutchison, Kay Bailey - (R - TX); Chief of Staff: Cliff Shannon; Legis. Dir.: Dave Davis; Judiciary and Women’s issues LA: Jenifer Healy; Native American Affairs LA: David Haines :
- If you live in Texas: contact her Dallas office (214) 361-3500
- If you live in or outside Texas, contact her DC office (202) 224-5922
Thank you for all your great work!!
- Be sure to look through our website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates.
- Check out and “like” our Facebook page where you can find a toolkit and other action and information items:
- Don’t forget to tweet about VAWA using the hashtags #ReauthorizeVAWA and #VAWA.
- If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to Sean Black, firstname.lastname@example.org.