Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Violence Against Women Act update

The Violence Against Women Act has passed in the U.S. Senate and has moved to the House, where it is expected to face strong opposition. Senator Mike Lee was one of 22 Senators to vote against the bill. I originally wrote about his opposition to the bill here. Along with writing the post, I emailed him. It took two weeks, but I got a response from Senator Mike Lee's office in regards to the Violence Against Women Act. Here it is:

Dear Megan:
     Thank you for writing to Senator Lee regarding the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The Senator always appreciates hearing from fellow Utahns. Senator Lee is firmly committed to doing everything he can to help stop violence against women. However, he felt he was unable to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
     Despite its good intentions, Senator Lee was unable to support the bill for three primary reasons. First, this issue is a state issue and outside the proper role of the federal government. Violent crimes are enforced almost exclusively by state governments and the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress has no authority to regulate domestic violence. States are better equipped to deal with these issues. Second, the strings Congress attaches to federal VAWA funding restrict a state's ability to govern itself. Congress should instead allow state and local leaders to have flexibility in enforcing state law instead of the one-size-fits-all federal requirements. Third, current federal VAWA funding includes many instances of duplication and overlap with other programs and has long been criticized as highly inefficient.
     Senator Lee favors state autonomy and local control. He wants to remove the federal restrictions that prevent states and localities from efficiently and effectively serving women and other victims of domestic violence. He supporters eliminating programs that are duplicated elsewhere in the federal government. For these reasons he was unable to vote for the bill.
     Senator Lee appreciates you sharing your views and ideas with him. Your views will be shared with the Senator and he is firmly committed to having meaningful dialogue with thoughtful citizens regarding the critical issues facing Utah and the Nation.
     Thank you again for writing and if there is anything we can do to be of assistance in the future, please don't hesitate to contact our office.
Best regards,
 Pete Blair
Office of Senator Michael S. Lee
(202) 224-5444

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