NNEDV Advocacy Days
The National Network to End Domestic Violence held their 2012 Advocacy Days in Washington D.C. on June 5th and 6th. There were over 100 participants who represented 40 states and territories. Two participants from the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence participated, Daniel Manzano, the public policy director and Lynn GentryWood, the public policy committee chairwoman.
The agenda was split into two busy days. The first day focused primarily on public policy forums and meeting key members within the Obama Administration including Bea Hanson, the acting director of the Office on Violence Against Women; Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women; Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the US Department of Justice, and Dr. Marylouise Kelley, Director of the Family Violence Prevention Services Act; and Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families.
The second day was meetings with our Congressional delegation on Capitol Hill. We met with Senator Udall, Congressman Heinrich and Congressman Lujan, as well as staff from the respected offices of Senator Bingaman and Congressman Pearce. We conveyed the complications that our programs are going through here in New Mexico with access to fewer resources and the different minority groups that are being targeted in Washington DC. We asked them to pass a strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the presidents signature. We also asked them to maintain the funding level for VAWA, and to raise the cap on the VOCA fund up to $775 million which would get domestic violence and sexual assault programs more funding here in New Mexico.
Currently the reauthorization of VAWA is in a political standoff, which is unprecedented territory. VAWA has never been a political issue until this year, where everything is political. The Senate passed S. 1925, which is the bill that over 330 organizations from across the US supported, including our coalition. The House passed HR. 4970 which had 0 organizations supporting it. Since both chambers passed conflicting bills, the next step is a conference committee, where members are selected from both chambers to hammer out a compromise bill that both sides can support. More than likely they will be members of the Judiciary Committees from both respected chambers. It has been more than 10 years since the last time a conference committee has had to take place, so leadership in both parties are a little rusty on the procedural formalities. Technically, they can come to terms with a strong, bipartisan VAWA informally before a conference committee is formed, but in my opinion I dont think anything will happen until after the elections in November. I will keep you all informed of any activity or any new information that comes my way. If you happen to see a member of our Congressional delegation in your hometown, please remind them how important this is for your program.