Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America
December 29, 2016
Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., signaled to other liberal women in the United States Senate, as well as to liberal groups, that Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, her colleague Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., should be opposed in part because of his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act. “I have seen him vote against the Violence Against Women Act,” she wrote in a recent Facebook post, “And we need to do everything we can to fight for an Attorney General who is truly committed to standing up for and protecting the rights of everyone in this country. Given Sessions’ record, it is difficult to see how he could pass this most basic, most essential, test.”
Well, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), despite its clever name, has many problems and Sessions has fought, and will continue to fight, for vulnerable victims of violence. However, with a whopping price tag of $1.6 billion over five years, VAWA failed to adequately address the needs of women in three ways.
First, the money increases bureaucracy and law enforcement without actually reaching women (and men) in need. For example, housing, a persistent need for victims, receives only one-fifth of the funding law enforcement action receives. If this legislation was block granted directly to the states then law enforcement or social services could be more precisely allocated.
Secondly, there is no evidence that the bill itself has helped reduce the rate of intimate partner violence. A Department of Justice report showed there was a 72% overall decrease in non-fatalviolent crime from 1994 to 2010, but domestic violence had a smaller decrease and then remained steady. Angela Parmley of the Department of Justice summarizes, “We have no evidence to date that VAWA has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women.”
Third, VAWA is rife with bureaucratic and financial mismanagement and abuse. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who was working to introduce language to fix some of these problems, described what some internal investigations had found:
A review of individual VAWA grantee audits that were conducted from 1998-2010 by the Department of Justice Inspector General indicates that the problem with VAWA grantees’ administration and record keeping may actually be getting worse. During this timeframe, the Inspector General conducted a review of 22 individual grantees that received funding from VAWA programs. Of those 22 grantees, 21 were found to have some form of violation of grant requirements ranging from unauthorized and unallowable expenditures, to sloppy record keeping and failure to report in a timely manner. Some of these audits are downright appalling.
The point here is that it would still take a courageous senator to stand for what is right. Truly standing on the side of women would require a senator to endure being painted by the malicious left as the total opposite.
It says a lot that Sessions did, in fact, stand for women, no matter the personal political cost he had to pay.
His nomination is great news for those of us who love justice and truth and who are tired of the political calculations that have plagued the DOJ under the Obama administration.
Sessions will be on the side of the people as the next attorney general. He will be for women, for children, for families — for all Americans. That is a welcomed and much-needed change at the DOJ.
The Senate should confirm him swiftly.
Penny Nance is president and CEO of Concerned Women for America.