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Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi Leads Illinois Democratic Delegation Urging Acting Attorney General Whitaker and DOJ To Protect Survivors Of Domestic Abuse By Ensuring Funding For Life-Saving Programs During Government Shutdown

January 23, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi today led the Illinois Democratic Delegation featuring Representatives Schakowsky, Kelly, Lipinski, Foster, Bustos, Rush, Underwood, Quigley, García, Schneider, Casten and Davis in a letter to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker questioning what the Department of Justice is doing to safeguard life-saving programs that protect survivors of domestic abuse during the misguided government shutdown.

“Critically needed resources to aid survivors of domestic violence must not be put in limbo because of this shutdown,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “I will continue to work diligently with my colleagues to ensure that programs to preserve the health and safety of survivors of violence are fully funded and operational.”

Congressman Krishnamoorthi and his colleagues’ efforts were also championed by a number of organizations which provide resources to protect survivors of domestic abuse across Illinois. “The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence is in support of Representative Krishnamoorthi and others’ efforts to restore the flow of funding for life-saving services on behalf of survivors of domestic violence,” said Vickie Smith, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which represents over 50 domestic violence prevention and intervention programs and services throughout the state of Illinois. “Whole families are at risk of the effects of violence in the home and cannot be safe when programs that provides services are not continual. It is critical that DOJ make alternative plans for all services that help survivors of violence.”

The signed letter can be viewed here, its text follows below, and a list of members of Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence supporting the letter can be found here:

 

January 23, 2019

Matthew Whitaker
Acting Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001


Dear Acting Attorney General Whitaker:

 

We write to inform you of the detrimental impact the government shutdown is having on critical resources for survivors of domestic violence.

In a report by the Chicago Tribune, we learned that due to the lapse in appropriations at the Department of Justice, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline is vulnerable to closure.1 The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline is a 24/7 hotline that survivors of domestic violence use to access lifesaving resources across the state, including: shelters, legal advocates, crisis centers, and counseling. Because the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline receives funding from a Victims of Crime Act grant through the U.S. Department of Justice, its federal funding remains in question during the current lapse in appropriations.

38 million American women in this country are domestic abuse survivors, and when federally-funded programs are no longer available for their use, they may be forced to stay in dangerous relationships, their children may be vulnerable to abuse, or they may lose their homes and protection.  To make matters worse, many of these women come from extreme poverty and sacrifice staying in dangerous relationships in order to provide food and shelter for their families.

Unfortunately, the 24/7 hotline in Illinois is not the only domestic violence resource that is underfunded or potentially inoperable due to the misguided government shutdown. According to a recent report from HuffPost2, one from Glamour3, another detailed report in Arkansas4, and another in Oregon5, domestic violence shelters across the country are cutting costs because of the government shutdown, threatening the health and safety of our shared community.

As this shutdown has now reached historic lengths, in which an end does not seem near, shelters, hotlines, and resources are beginning to prepare for the worst which could lead to a cut in services and planned layoffs. That is why we, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, continue to support bipartisan funding bills to reopen the government, fund critical government programs, and pay American workers.

We strongly believe that the Department of Justice has an obligation to protect women from abuse and to fund life-saving programs. To resolve the pressing issue at hand, and to prevent these effects from happening in future lapses in appropriations, I respectfully request answers to the following questions:
 

  1. In light of the current government shutdown, what does the Department of Justice plan on doing to mitigate the potential loss in services for domestic violence survivors?
  2. Does the Department of Justice plan to expand or strengthen existing programs to support survivors of domestic violence?
  3. In the event of another shutdown, what does the Department of Justice plan on doing to ensure that women continue to have access to federal domestic violence resources?

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,       

Raja Krishnamoorthi                                                    Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

Robin L. Kelly                                                             Daniel W. Lipinski   

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

Bill Foster                                                                    Cheri Bustos

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

                

Bobby L. Rush                                                             Lauren Underwood

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

Mike Quigley                                                               Jesús G. “Chuy” García

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

Bradley S. Schneider                                                    Sean Casten

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

Danny K. Davis                 

Member of Congress