House Passes VAWA with Axne Amendment
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) praised House passage of the bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which included the Axne STOP grant amendment. The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which Rep. Axne co-sponsored on March 7, will support key provisions of the landmark legislation, provide additional resources and address gaps in current law to better protect women in Iowa and across the country from violence. The bill now heads to the Senate.
The Axne amendment increases funding for STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) grants from $40 to $60 million annually. The STOP Formula Grant Program is awarded to states to enhance the capacity of local communities to strengthen strategies to combat violent crimes against women and to develop and strengthen victim services in cases involving violent crimes against women.
“When I worked at the State of Iowa, I helped the Crime Victims Assistance Unit at the Attorney General’s office improve their processes. I saw firsthand that Iowa’s local and state agencies don’t have the resources they need to stop this epidemic. My amendment will increase funding for the STOP grant program to provide Iowa’s local law enforcement and state agencies with the proper tools and resources they need to better combat and prosecute violence against women,” said Rep. Axne. “For many victims of domestic and sexual violence, recovery can be a life-long process. These grants not only help local law enforcement agencies stop these despicable crimes, but also ensure we’re protecting and supporting survivors.”
Many law enforcement, state agencies and community organizations in Iowa’s Third District have received STOP grant funding, including the Des Moines Police Department, Iowa Attorney General’s Office, Iowa Department of Health, State Court Administrator’s Office, Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer and Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity.
Quotes from Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Des Moines Police Department:
“The sexual assault service program funds in Iowa support critically important services. I have been working in this field for more than 30 years, and I have never seen such an outpouring of survivors needing support. STOP helps us respond to people who are carrying tremendous pain, sometimes unable to work to their full potential, go to school, or parent in ways they prefer,” said Elizabeth Barnhill, Executive Director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
“Iowa is a primarily rural state and without STOP funding, survivors would have to travel long distances for help. But because of this funding, Iowa advocates can travel to meet sexual assault survivors anywhere a survivor wants to meet. They meet survivors at schools, Casey’s stores, libraries, churches, substance abuse facilities, or colleges. Our advocates funded under STOP grants go to hospitals and depositions and court to help answer any medical or legal questions a survivor might have. We are grateful that Congress has recognized this need and that Rep. Axne supports a much-needed increase,” Ms. Barnhill added.
"The appropriations pertaining to the Violence Against Women Act are truly important and impactful on many fronts. The Des Moines Police Department embraces a “victims first” approach to dealing with violent crime, with a special emphasis on crimes that involve women and children as victims. Many years ago, we established a Domestic Abuse Response Team to ensure all factions of the family were provided the necessary attention and services when these types of incidents occurred. Unfortunately, it goes without saying that the vast majority of those we serve are women,” said Des Moines Police Department Chief Dana Wingert.
“The operations come with an expense, both financially and in terms of resource allocation. We are committed to provide the resources to make our City safe, and rely on the budget relief provided by the Violence Against Women Act to allow us to be progressive, innovative and successful in this effort," Chief Wingert added.
The landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 codified Congress’s commitment to advancing effective strategies for preventing and responding to domestic and sexual violence, holding offenders accountable, and ensuring safety, autonomy, and justice for victims.
On March 7, Rep. Axne co-sponsored the bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which expired on September 30, 2018. The VAWA reauthorization will support key provisions of the landmark legislation, provide additional resources and address gaps in current law to better protect women in Iowa and across the country from violence. This year is the 25th anniversary since VAWA was originally enacted.
Full video of the speech is available below: