As Gridlock Drags on Over Violence Against Women Act, Heitkamp Calls on Berg to Support Senate VAWA
House Leadership Refuses to Support Bipartisan Senate Version, Which is Also Backed by Domestic Violence Organizations
MANDAN, N.D. – One day after advocates pressed House leadership to take up the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that has stalled for a month, former North Dakota attorney general and U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp called on Rep. Rick Berg to join her in calling on the House to pass the Senate version.
Heitkamp issued her call to Berg in a letter to Berg and the rest of North Dakota’s congressional delegation.
“This isn’t about politics. It’s about protecting our people — all of them,” said Heitkamp. “I’ll put politics aside and do what’s best for North Dakota, and that’s exactly why I support the Senate version of VAWA that has important protections for our tribal communities. I hope my opponent will take on his own leadership and do the same.”
During debate in May 2012, Rick Berg voted against considering the reauthorization of the Senate version of VAWA. Berg voted for the previous question, which shut-off debate and prohibited the consideration of an amendment (H. Res. 656) that would’ve adopted the Senate language. [Vote 254, 5/16/12; Congressional Record, Pg. 25, 5/16/12]. This is a repeat of similar March 2012 vote, when his “yes” vote on Roll Call 139 prevented discussion or debate of the Senate version of the bill.
While the Senate version of the bill has bipartisan support, more than 300 groups oppose the House version.
As attorney general, Heitkamp initiated a program to create and develop a five-year plan to address domestic violence in North Dakota. That plan helped lead to the creation of some 17 local domestic violence task forces in North Dakota, and offer training across the state to about 480 peace officers, prosecutors and domestic violence advocates.
VAWA was enacted in 1994, and provides a comprehensive approach to address the needs of victims of domestic violence. The program provides funding to improve enforcement efforts against domestic violence, help provide housing protection for victims, and improve programs to prevent crime.
During the campaign Heitkamp led roundtable discussions on VAWA in Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks with members of law enforcement and members of area nonprofits who work to combat domestic violence to build support for the legislation.
Background: Violence Against Women in North Dakota
CDC: Lifetime Prevalence of Rape, or Sexual Violence (North Dakota):
19.3% – estimated number of ND women who will experience sexual violence in the form rape in their lifetime (48,000 women)
30.6% – estimated number of ND women who will experience sexual violence of some form (other than rape) in their lifetime (77,000 women)
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