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Legislative Update: VAWA & The Sequester

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By: Rachel L. MSW, LMSW

VAWA Passes US Senate

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 along with all the bills amendments by a vote of 78-22, and it is now up to the House of Representatives to pass a matching bill. Violence Against Women Act expired last spring after the House GOP blocked the bill from passing.

First passed in 1994, the 2012 and 2013 version of the law sought to extend protections and services to members of the LGBT community, immigrant women and women living on reservations.  It is these amendments that the GOP members of the house objected to.  You can read the bill in its entirety here.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave a vague response on whether or not the House will push the bill forward:

“Our leadership [is] continuing to work with the committee of jurisdiction, looking at finding ways to deal with this legislation. We’re fully committed to doing everything we can to protect women in our society, and I expect that the House will act in a timely fashion in some way,”

“No decision has been made about … whether we take up the Senate bill or our own version of the bill.”  Read Full Article

Mental Health in Schools

On January 31st Senator Al Franken (D-MI) introduced his bill to expand mental health services to children in schools.  The Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013 (S.195) would:

To amend the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend projects relating to children and violence to provide access to school-based comprehensive mental health programs.

It is the purpose of this Act to–

(1) revise, increase funding for, and expand the scope of the Safe Schools-Healthy Students program in order to provide access to more comprehensive school-based mental health services and supports;

(2) provide for comprehensive staff development for school and community service personnel working in the school; and

(3) provide for comprehensive training for children with mental health disorders, for parents, siblings, and other family members of such children, and for concerned members of the community.

You can read the entire text of the bill here.  So far the bill has eleven cosponsors.

The Sequester

According to Jon Ward at the Huffington Post the Sequester will happen.  Congress has until March 1st to fix the budget at which point automatic cuts will take effect; such cuts will have disastrous effects.

Yesterday Senator Babara Mikulski (D-MD) released a letter she received from the Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Shaun Donovan.  In that letter Donovan list the impact the sequester would have on housing programs; stating that such cuts “would be deeply destructive and would affect numerous families, individual and communities across the nation that rely on HUD programs.”  You can read the entire letter below:

[gview file=”https://socialworkhelper.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/HUD-Letter-February-Sequester-Hearing.pdf”].

Rachel L. West is the Founder of the Political Social Worker, a blog dedicated to macro social work and politics. She holds a BA in History from SUNY Stony Brook and an MSW from Adelphi University. She is a community outreach and engagement specialist. Rachel resides in New York State, and she is available as a consultant and coach. You can find out more about Rachel at The Political Social Worker at (politicalsocialworker.org).

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