On Thursday, February 28, the House of Representatives passed the Senate-passed version of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 which reauthorizes the US Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) and the grant programs that office administers from FY 2014 through FY 2018. While the funding levels in this reauthorization bill are at somewhat lower levels than the prior reauthorization, OVW had never been appropriated at the high levels of past reauthorizations so this bill more accurately reflects future funding levels within the office.
House Republican leadership attempted to pass a substitute to S. 47 prior to the vote on the Senate-passed version but fell well short of a simple majority. After the Senate-passed version passed overwhelmingly, the bill will now be sent to President Obama where he has all but guaranteed he will sign the bill into law.
While NDAA has fully supported past versions of VAWA Reauthorization, including the bill Senator Leahy introduced and passed through the Senate during the 112th Congress, NDAA did not support S. 47 due to language in the bill which could possibly affect NDAA’s eligibility for OVW grant funding due to its ongoing DOJ/OIG Audit. The “Mandatory Exclusion” language in VAWA Reauthorization penalizes organizations who have audit findings on OVW grants which are unresolved after 12 months from the submission of the final audit report by DOJ’s Office of Inspector General by restricting all eligibility for OVW grant funding for 2 fiscal years. With the passage of VAWA Reauthorization and with enactment all but certain, this provision will become active on October 1, 2013 – the first day of fiscal year 2014.
However, after many discussions and meetings with House and Senate Judiciary Committee staff members over the past several months, NDAA has learned that both House and Senate Judiciary Committee Majority staff members read the provision as only applying toward grants (and subsequent audits on those grants) authorized under the reauthorization period contained in this legislation – FY 2014-2018. This would mean that a grantee who has an unresolved audit finding in a VAWA grant following an audit mandated by this bill would be excluded going forward but would not burden NDAA based on a separate and earlier audit from FY 2010, thus NDAA would not be excluded based on our ongoing OIG audit. NDAA continues to work with House and Senate Judiciary staff members to make this point clear in legislative history prior to the Mandatory Exclusion rule taking effect later this year. NDAA was sure to make the point to members of the House and Senate throughout VAWA’s consideration that had NDAA not been underneath the ongoing lengthy audit by DOJ’s Office of Inspector General, it would have likely supported the Mandatory Exclusion language contained in S. 47 and would have offered its full support of the bill.