The partial government shutdown puts several programs at risk of losing funding if a resolution is not soon reached between President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders in Congress. The shutdown began at midnight on Dec. 22, making it two weeks since the impasse began over funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
While “essential” government agencies will stay open across the U.S., funding for nearly a quarter of federal programs has expired. The funding for these programs won’t be renewed until a compromise is made on funding for the wall.
One program in danger of losing its funding is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a U.S. federal law that began in 1994 under President Bill Clinton. VAWA provides funding for organizations and programs across the U.S. that offer assistance to women who are survivors of domestic assault, stalking, rape and other forms of sexual violence.
The House and Senate passed spending deals that included clauses to extend VAWA until Feb. 8, but it has not yet been reauthorized. According to an article in Vox, grants already awarded under the law won’t be affected, but future payment requests from programs that receive VAWA funding will be delayed until the law is reauthorized.
A Roll Call article says the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services administer most of the VAWA programming. Funding for the Department of Justice is tied to the current budget debate.
Tiffany Pearl, residential director at OASIS said they don’t receive their funding through VAWA. The Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV) funds OASIS; however, the funding OASIS receives through KCADV comes directly from VAWA.
“There will definitely be a huge impact [because of the government shutdown],” Pearl said. “I’m almost certain that if they don’t receive that funding, that would definitely impact OASIS.”
Vickie Johnson, the director of grants and contracts for KCADV, said she is worried programs like OASIS will suffer in the long run if federal officials don’t figure out their budget.
“More generally, we are concerned about the impact that the shutdown may have on the social safety net. Many of the domestic violence victims served by our programs (including OASIS) rely on KTAP, SNAP, SSI/SSDI, housing subsidies, etc., so if their ability to access these resources is hindered, they may be unable to meet their financial obligations,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she doesn’t foresee a short-term delay on reimbursement requests because, although many of KCADV’s programs receive VAWA funding, it is passed through the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. However, Johnson said if Kentucky legislation begins noticing they’re strapped for funds, that could all change.
“If the state begins to feel the pinch, that could change. The same is true for other funding that is passed through the state to service providers,” Johnson said.
According to NBC News, Toni Van Pelt, president of the National Organization for Women said the funding flow for VAWA “may be stopped, which will put women’s lives in danger.”
Van Pelt added that nonprofits that run organizations funded through VAWA are working on “shoestring budgets” that could run dry if the government shutdown doesn’t end soon.
Karla Ward, Executive Director of New Beginnings — a sexual assault support service in Owensboro — said one of her most important employees’ salary is partially funded through VAWA. While her employee isn’t working without pay because she’s also funded through other sources, Ward said everything depends on how long the government stretches out the shutdown.
“We’ll do what we have to do — it’s not a huge amount of money, but if it continues…who knows?” Ward asked. “I don’t anticipate them not reauthorizing these national funds because of everything that’s happened lately. It doesn’t seem like any kind of agreement is happening [at the federal level], and there are so many important programs being funded through these grants,” Ward said.