Representative Sandy Adams (R- Florida), the bill's main sponsor, declared that the house would not consider "controversial issues" for the reauthorization. This statement seems counter-intuitive when addressing violence inflicted upon one person by another. Notwithstanding, Adams' refers to three specific provisions in the Senate bill: one would subject non-Indian suspects of domestic violence to prosecution before tribal courts for crimes committed on reservations; the second would expand the number of temporary visas for undocumented victims of domestic violence; and the third would expand VAWA protections to gay, bisexual and transgender victims of domestic abuse.
Supporters of S. 1925 cringe at the potential consequences of eliminating these provisions. Where the House bill fails to specify LGBT victims for its grant programs, opponents fear that states will use this lack of specificity to preclude them from social assistance under VAWA. Furthermore, while members of the house argue that H.R. 4970 allows Native American women to apply for protective orders from local U.S. courts, opponents contend that women abused on Indian reservations are often left without legal recourse. Statistically, three out of five Native American women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Finally, the House bill denies the possibility of citizenship for undocumented women who are abused, and cooperate with police in investigating their perpetrators. Also, it provides for 10,000 fewer temporary visas than the Senate bill's proposed 15,000. Under the House bill, immigrant women are discouraged from reporting cases of abuse out of fear of deportation. For a number of women, this means subjecting their U.S. citizen children to abusive environments, because they have no protection against deportation.
Many feel that women are under economic assault. Behind the rhetoric of saving taxpayer dollars, "deficit hawks" are targeting social programs created to protect women's civil rights. What about saving the taxpayers? Or do women not pay taxes? Among other cuts, H.R 4970 calls for a $10 million reduction in sexual assault services programs; a $30 million reduction in rape prevention and education grants; a $30,000 reduction in grants to combat violent crimes on campuses; and a $1 million reduction in training and services to end violence against women with disabilities. Even under the more favorable 2005 reauthorization of VAWA, victims of violence struggled to find available shelters as more and more closed their doors in the face of budget cuts. With these proposed cuts, accessibility to shelters and other services will become even more scant-- and unacceptably so.
H.R. 4970's politically created economic barriers communicate a harsh message to the affected parties: they are not worth protecting. As its critics suggest, it is just "watered down" legislation that guts the Violence Against Women Act. Many in fact, (including Senator Patty Murray (D- Washington), Hon. Nancy Pelosi (D- California), Vice-president Joe Biden, and even President Obama) would prefer no VAWA bill to a version which excludes protections for LGBT, Native American and immigrant victims of violence. Let's hope the Senate wins this one.