House Republicans voted down an amendment to an appropriations bill on Thursday that would have increased funding for Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs by $20 million.
“This is a question of values and priorities. What kind of message do we want to send to women across the country?" Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who pushed for the funding increase, said on the House floor before the vote. "Do we value women’s safety? Are we willing to make sure we have the resources needed?"
The House Appropriations Bill for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and Science for Fiscal Year 2013 carves out $420 million for grants under the Violence Against Women Act, which is $15 million less than those programs received in funding in FY 2010.
After the Senate passed its version of the Violence Against Women Act, House Republicans trimmed the bill down by rolling back existing protections for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and stripping provisions that would extend protections for Native American and LGBT victims.
Nadler said Congress should pay for the additional $20 million in VAWA funding by cutting unnecessary administrative expenses. He specifically cited the lavish General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas that became a national scandal.
“The $20 million increase for VAWA is offset by cuts to administrative accounts," he said. "We have heard from our colleagues of the need to cut government spending, to cut administrative expenses, to prevent the types of excesses we have seen recently in the GSA and other agencies with Las Vegas conference extravaganzas. Well, now is your chance to put your money where your mouth is and shift funding from these types of administrative expenses to preventing violence against women."
Republicans balked at Nadler's request, accusing him of politicizing the issue and pointing out that the funding level for VAWA is already higher than what President Barack Obama requested from the House.
"We're $7.5 million above the current level for this issue," said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.). "Also, we're $7.5 million above President Obama's request for violence against women. We're above it."
Michael McAuliff contributed reporting.