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NNEDV’s Legislative Priorities for the 117th Congress

June 15, 2021

A Statement from Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO

Our nation is in the midst of multiple, intersecting crises that exacerbate disparities and endanger survivors of domestic violence. To make real strides in reducing gender-based violence during this challenging time, Congress must invest in strategies that advance access to safety, justice, and economic stability for survivors while reducing reliance on systems that are not helping all survivors. All funding and policies must center the needs of historically marginalized survivors.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is excited to share our Priorities for the 117th Congress: Legislation and Funding to Address Survivors’ Needs so Congress can make real the changes survivors need. Earlier this year, we also developed our priorities for the new Administration, entitled The Next Steps to Ending Domestic Violence: 100 Day and Ongoing Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration and, together, these two documents provide a roadmap to creating the necessary federal changes that will ultimately address survivors’ long-term security.

NNEDV celebrates the beginning of the 117th Congress, marked by progress on a number of our key legislative priorities. We urge Congress to build on this start by:

  • Reauthorizing and building upon core domestic violence legislation—especially the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA)—to create and support comprehensive responses to the needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Saving the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) by restoring the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) and avoiding catastrophic cuts for more than 6,000 local organizations that rely on funds from VOCA to provide lifesaving direct services to victims of crime, including domestic violence.
  • Investing in key programs via Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations, including programs that reach each state, territory, and tribe, and provide funding for culturally specific programs to ensure all survivors have access to safety and justice.
  • Expanding survivors’ access to housing options to ensure that they can safely leave abusive partners, maintain safe housing, and avoid homelessness. Domestic violence and sexual assault are key drivers of homelessness for women, children, and LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Bolstering survivors’ economic stability and addressing our country’s severe economic disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ninety-nine percent of domestic violence survivors experience financial abuse; addressing economic and social conditions can reduce the risks of both perpetration and victimization.
  • Investing in non-carceral approaches to addressing domestic violence in order to ensure that all survivors, especially survivors of color, can access safety, justice, and economic stability when the criminal justice system and other systems have failed them or exacerbated the violence and oppression they experience.
  • Protecting immigrant survivors of violence in order to prioritize their safety and autonomy and to prevent further victimization, detention, and removal. Abusers often exploit survivors’ immigration status in order to further isolate them, and persistent gaps in the law deny immigrant survivors access to the safety and justice they deserve.

It’s time for Congress to take bold action to support survivors and meet their housing, economic, and other needs. Read our full recommendations here.

Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO