When the government shut down after Congress and the president failed to reach an agreement on the border wall at the heart of Trump’s campaign, the Violence Against Women Act expired, temporarily cutting off funding for programs assisting victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse.
In a year in which the #MeToo movement prompted political leaders to respond to the crisis of domestic violence across the country, the temporary cutting of funds was interpreted as a step backward. And if a solution is not reached soon, this could harm Trump by portraying him as more committed to making taxpayers pay for a campaign promise of his that has received little support than he is in protecting the safety of American women.
Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, suggested that the shutdown was the latest example of a pattern of Trump showing disrespect for American women. He said in a statement: “Because of the Trump Shutdown, the landmark Violence Against Women Act has also expired. We have a responsibility to uplift and protect women in this country, and Trump, yet again, decided to undermine the group of people who are the very bedrock of our communities, families, and workplaces.”
The landmark 1994 law was set to expire Dec. 7 before receiving a last-minute reprieve. But because the act’s programs are funded under the Justice Department, it is affected by the shutdown.
The Post’s Elise Viebeck reported that grants previously awarded under the law will not be affected by the lapse in its authorization, but advocates say payment requests from VAWA-funded programs will be delayed.
While Democrats have attempted to blame Trump and his party for the potential impact of programs not receiving funding, ultimately both sides of the aisle might be held accountable for not finding an alternative to make sure these programs have the funds they need.
Mónica Ramírez, founder of Justice for Migrant Women, told The Fix that the act expiring is a public safety issue that puts the security of women in jeopardy. “The health and safety of people in this country must be among the top priorities for members of Congress, including protecting people from all forms of violence,” she said. “Congress has failed to act on this priority. Funding VAWA is necessary to keep communities safe, provide lifesaving services, and ensure that there are necessary resources to investigate and prosecute these violent crimes.”
The optics of women in harm’s way not getting the services they need because of political posturing could have real ramifications for lawmakers as we head into the new year. Given female voters' rejection of the Republican Party in last month’s midterm elections, the GOP is already at a bit of a disadvantage. An attempt to stay in his base’s good graces could cause Trump to further lose a much larger and more influential voting bloc — women.