National Network to End Domestic Violence Reacts to New Federal Funding Investments for Domestic Violence Programs and the Failure to Reauthorize the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act
December 23, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Winjum, Director of Development and Communications, 203-952-6028
Washington, D.C. — Today, the fiscal year 2023 (FY23) omnibus appropriations bill heads to President Biden for his signature. This end-of-year measure includes much-needed funding increases for domestic violence programs, but failed to include the bipartisan Family Violence Prevention and Services (FVPSA) Improvement Act of 2021.
Statement of Deborah J. Vagins, President & CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
NNEDV applauds the funding increases included in the FY23 appropriations bill and the new workplace protections, which will help ensure necessary resources and support to address the immediate needs of survivors. State and territorial coalitions and local domestic violence service providers are facing high demand for services, as the nation experiences an increase in domestic violence. Survivors continue to grapple with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, along with an economic downturn and other challenges. Service providers need more resources to meet survivors’ complex and intersecting needs for safety and security.
Funding in the FY23 appropriations bill reflects much-needed investments in NNEDV’s priority programs. We applaud the record-breaking, significant increase in funding for the FVPSA program, which funds emergency shelters and wraparound services for survivors in crisis. The bill increases funding for a number of critical Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, such as the Culturally Specific Services Program, the Sexual Assault Services Program, the Transitional Housing program, Legal Assistance for Victims, the Rural grant program, and investments in newer programs, including a direct cash assistance program restorative practices, and LGBTQ Specific Services Program. Recognizing survivors’ urgent needs for housing, the bill also provides continued funding for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (DV/SA) Bonus program, at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Together, these vital investments will help local domestic violence programs provide the full spectrum of resources survivors need for safety, security, and healing.
Domestic violence programs and other victim services providers rely on Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding to support millions of survivors each year. NNEDV, its member coalitions, and the nearly 2,000 local programs they represent continue to be concerned about low deposits into the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), as it impacts annual VOCA funding. We are grateful the final FY23 bill provides the highest level of funding possible for VOCA and discontinues the practice of using VOCA to pay for other federal priorities. We urge Congress and the Administration to work to increase deposits into the CVF.
NNEDV is grateful to the leadership of the Biden Administration, Senate and House Appropriations Committee leadership, including Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Patty Murray (D-WA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Tom Cole (R-OK), David Price (D-NC), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and the hundreds of members of Congress whose advocacy for and commitment to survivors were essential to securing these investments.
We are also grateful that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which provides employment protections and accommodations for pregnant workers, was included in the FY23 appropriations package as passed. NNEDV has supported PWFA because many pregnant survivors need their jobs to maintain independence and yet face discrimination due to pregnancy at work. The new law will help more pregnant survivors maintain employment. Additionally, we are thankful that the Savings Access for Escaping and Rebuilding Act, which would allow penalty-free withdrawal from retirement plans for victims of domestic abuse, was included. This Act will provide an option for survivors who often need access to financial resources to escape abuse and establish safety and security for themselves and their children.
Although we are grateful for the increased funding for domestic violence programs and additional policy protections for survivors, we are deeply disappointed the 117th Congress failed to reauthorize FVPSA. The bipartisan FVPSA Improvement Act passed the House of Representatives in 2021 and, while the Senate HELP Committee passed a companion bill, the full Senate never passed the bill. We hoped Congress would include the bill in their FY23 omnibus appropriations package, but they did not.
FVPSA provides core support for more than 1,500 domestic violence shelters and programs to respond to the urgent needs of more than 1.3 million domestic violence survivors and their children each year. It funds emergency shelters, crisis hotlines, counseling, and legal assistance. It was last reauthorized over a decade ago, leaving a gap to the growing and evolving needs of survivors.
Congress had an opportunity to address the unmet needs of survivors and to close some of the policy gaps in current law through the FVPSA Improvement Act, which would have increased overall funding authorization levels, provided dedicated funding for culturally specific programs and tribal coalitions for the first time, and meaningfully invest in prevention. Unfortunately, the Senate’s failure to pass the bill means many survivors and communities will not have the desperately needed increased support and access the FVPSA Improvement Act would bring.
We thank Senate and House FVPSA Improvement Act lead sponsors Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA), the late Don Young (R-AK), Gwen Moore (D-WI), and John Katko (R-NY), and the Senate HELP and House Education & Labor Committee members Chair Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Chair Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) for their efforts towards passing the FVPSA Improvement Act of 2021.
NNEDV will continue to advocate for reauthorizing and strengthening FVPSA, and the FVPSA Improvement Act will be one of our top priorities in the 118th Congress. We urge Congress to take up this critical piece of legislation and pass it in the new Congress with haste.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) represents the 56 state and U.S. territorial coalitions against domestic violence. NNEDV is a social change organization with a mission to create a social, political, and economic environment in which domestic violence no longer exists. NNEDV works to make domestic violence a national priority, change the way society responds to domestic violence, and strengthen domestic violence advocacy at every level.