Grassley Substitute Bill defeated

VAWA vote delayed – we still have work to do!

The vote on S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill - with 62 sponsors - that would reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Michael Crapo (R-ID) was delayed on Thursday and is expected to be voted on early next week, probably Monday (Feb. 11) early evening.   

However, a harmful substitute bill proposed by Senator Grassley, that was similar to the flawed House bill of the 112th Congress, was defeated on Thursday 65-34.  All of VAWA’s sponsors except Heller R-NV voted against the harmful Grassley “substitute.”  Good work everyone.

S. 47 is very similar to the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Leahy and Crapo last Congress and would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence (see description of legislation below for an explanation of some of the changes). 

In anticipation of the impending vote, we need you to take action TODAY and MONDAY by contacting your Senators to thank them for co-sponsoring the Senate VAWA and for voting against the Grassley substitute (all except Senator Heller, who voted yes on the substitute bill). 

Ask all of them to vote against any further weakening or non-germane amendments!  (A list of sponsoring Senators and Senators who might be persuaded to support a final VAWA is at the end of this email.)



Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask the operator to connect you to your Senators. If you don’t know who your Senators are, you can look them up here. When you’re connected to their offices, ask to speak to the staff person who handles VAWA. 

If your Senator IS already cosponsoring, tell or leave a message for the staff person:

  1. I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________.
  2. I want to thank Senator____ for co-sponsoring S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and for voting against the Grassley substitute..   Please urge Senator _____________ to follow Senator Leahy’s lead and vote NO on any weakening or non-germane amendments and YES on the final bill.


If your Senator is NOT already cosponsoring, tell or leave a message for the staff person:

  1. I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________.
  2. I urge Senator____ to vote for S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and to vote NO on any further weakening or non-germane amendments.
  3. Thank you and I look forward to hearing that my Senator voted  VAWA without harmful amendments. 


Description of S. 47: In addition to many important improvements, such as addressing the criminal justice response to sexual assault, domestic violence homicides, housing needs, and campus victimization included in legislation last year, the current Senate bill also maintains enhanced protections for tribal, LGBT and immigrant victims.  These provisions were identified as critical priorities by advocates across the country and received overwhelming bipartisan support last year in the Senate.

One provision from last year’s bill was not included- the modest increase in the number of U visas available to immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and certain other violent crimes who assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime (originally created by Congress in VAWA 2000). Increasing the number of U visas would help both victims and law enforcement. Unfortunately, that provision led to a technical objection from House Republican leaders and, in the interest of obtaining the swift reauthorization of VAWA, the Senate introduced the new VAWA bill without that provision in order to avoid any initial technical obstacles. Other important provisions to help immigrant victims and their children from last year’s bill are included in S. 47.  The National Task Force and Senator Leahy will also be working hard to include the U visa increase in the comprehensive immigration reform legislation that will soon be considered by Congress.

Another provision was added, the SAFER Act, S. 80, originally sponsored by Leahy and Cornyn (R-TX) which passed unanimously in the Senate late last year and promotes the elimination of sexual assault evidence (rape kits) backlogs that could be used to prosecute offenders and solve cold cases.

Please note this GOOD amendment:  Senator Leahy is offering a trafficking-related amendment, which is effectively the same as S.1301, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), a positive bill that had broad bipartisan support last year (including from 15 Republicans). For a factsheet on S.1301, click here. For the bill text click here and for a full list of co-sponsors, click here.  NTF supports this amendment.


So far, the bill has the following sponsors:

Senators Ayotte, Kelly (R-NH), Baldwin, Tammy  (D–WI), Baucus, Max (D-MT) , Begich, Mark (D-AK), Bennet, Michael (D-CO), Blumenthal, Richard (D-CT), Boxer, Barbara (D-CA), Brown, Sherrod (D-OH),  Cantwell, Maria (D-WA), Cardin, Benjamin (D-MD), Carper, Thomas (D-DE) Casey, Robert (D–PA), Collins, Susan (R-ME), Coons, Chris (D-DE), Cowan, Mo (D- MA), Crapo, Mike (R-ID), Donnelly, Joe (D-IN) Durbin, Richard (D-IL), Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA), Franken, Al (D-MN), Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY), Hagan, Kay (D-NC), Harkin, Tom (D-IA), Heinrich, Martin (D-NM), Heitkamp, Heidi (D–ND), Heller, Dean (R-NV),  Hirono, Mazie  (D-HI), Johnson, Tim (D - SD), Kaine, Tim (D-VA) King, Angus (I-ME), Kirk, Mark (R-IL), Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN), Landrieu, Mary (D-LA), Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ) Leahy, Patrick (D-VT), Levin, Carl (D-MI) McCaskill, Claire (D-MO), Manchin, Joe (D-WV) ,Menendez, Robert (D-NJ), Merkley, Jeff (D-OR), Mikulski, Barbara (D-MD), Moran, Jerry (R-KS), Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK), Murphy, Christopher (D-CT) Murray, Patty (D-WA), Nelson, Bill (D-FL)  Pryor, Mark  (D-AR), Reed, Jack (D-RI), Reid, Harry (D-NV), Rockefeller, John D (D-WV), Sanders, Bernard (I-VT), Schatz, Brian (D-HI) Schumer, Charles  (D-NY), Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH), Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI), Tester, Jon (D-MT), Udall, Mark (D-CO), Udall, Tom (D-NM), Warner, Mark (D-VA), Warren, Elizabeth (D-MA), Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI), Wyden, Ron (D-OR).  Please thank these Senators for their early support of the Violence Against Women Act.


Potential Sponsors of S. 47:

Fischer, Deb - (R - NE) The only woman Senator, out of 20, who has yet to sponsor VAWA


#Alexander, Lamar - (R - TN)

 #Coats, Daniel - (R - IN)

#Corker, Bob - (R-TN)

#Hoeven, John- (R - ND)

#McCain, John - (R - AZ)

#Portman, Rob - (R - OH)

#Vitter, David - (R - LA)

Cornyn, John - (R - TX)

Enzi, Michael B. - (R - WY)

Graham, Lindsey - (R - SC)

Grassley, Chuck - (R - IA)

Hatch, Orrin G. - (R - UT)

Rubio, Marco - (R - FL)

Toomey, Patrick J. - (R - PA)

N=new, #Voted for VAWA 2012





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