Leahy Advances Record Funding For Violence Against Women Act Programs; Increase For Bulletproof Vests Program

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, June 15, 2018) – Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday guided record funding of $497.5 million to support Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs, an increase of $5.5 million compared to the current fiscal year and the highest level ever provided for VAWA programs administered by the Department of Justice.  Leahy also shepherded an appropriation of $25 million -- a $2.5 million increase -- to help local law enforcement purchase bulletproof vests.  The funding was included in the fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations bill. 

Leahy said: “These programs support the brave women and men who are on the ground making a real difference in our communities.  Whether making sure a police department can equip its officers with properly fitting, lifesaving body armor, or strengthening community services that not only help survivors of domestic and sexual violence, but also work to prevent domestic and sexual violence in the first place, these programs matter.”

Leahy authored the landmark legislation enacted in 2013 that strengthened VAWA and renewed its charter.  He led the fight in that bill for inclusion of all victims, regardless of immigration status, sexual orientation or tribal affiliations.  The CJS bill considered and passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday included a $2 million increase for a Leahy-authored rural grants program designed to reach victims in underserved populations, as well as an additional $1 million for the Leahy-authored transitional housing assistance grants.  In Vermont, VAWA grants have funded domestic and sexual violence programs around the state.  

Leahy joined former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in 1998 to author and pass the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act in response to a fatal shootout on the Vermont-New Hampshire border.  The program has helped more than 13,000 state and local police departments purchase nearly 1.3 million in body armor that meets current standards.  In 2017 alone, 34 Vermont towns received funding to purchase 280 new vests.

Approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee is a crucial first step in the fiscal year 2019 process.  Several steps remain in the legislative process, including approval by the full Senate, reconciliation with House, and signature into law by the President.

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