Vice President Joe Biden, who has used his public platform to advocate for domestic-violence awareness since the 1970s, called out House Republicans on Friday for their recently released budget plan that he says will cut significant funding from programs that combat violence against women.
After discussing the Affordable Care Act's programs for violence prevention and treatment, Biden said the current crop of GOP House legislators would seek to end them with their new blueprint, which would eliminate the 2010 health law. The Republican budget would replace the ACA with "patient-centered health reform."
"It will not pass, God willing," Biden said. If it were to pass, "all those programs I just mentioned that benefit victimized women, they will be gone."
Biden, who spoke at the National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence held in Washington, was referring to provisions within the ACA such as home visitations for victims, no-cost domestic-violence screening, and adjustments to what constitutes a preexisting condition.
"Remember, you doctors, you nurses, you health care providers," that "years ago, an insurance company could deny health coverage for a woman victim of violence because it was a preexisting condition," Biden said.
He said that some programs related to preventing violence against women and helping abuse victims fall under discretionary spending, and he doesn't have high hopes that GOP representatives will keep those programs intact.
"What's likely to happen is, they will cut significantly more from the violence-against-women provision "¦ in order to save some of the discretionary programs they like," Biden said.
Domestic-violence and sexual-assault awareness have been a cornerstone of the vice president's political career. After assuming the vice presidency in 2009, Biden created the position of White House adviser on violence against women, appointing Lynn Rosenthal, a career domestic-violence and sexual-assault advocate. Rosenthal stepped down in January to work for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a 24/7 help line that was created through VAWA. Her successor, law professor and human-rights advocate Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, was named earlier this month.
More than 20 years ago, Biden authored the Violence Against Women Act, a bill that instituted harsher penalties for offenders—giving more money to law enforcement to prosecute them—and provided greater protections and a broader network of support to victims, through crisis centers and shelters. He introduced VAWA in 1990; it was signed into law by President Clinton four years later and reauthorized in 2013.
Biden has called the law his "proudest legislative accomplishment." Last year, the vice president marked its 20-year anniversary with a speech at the National Archives, describing how VAWA exposed domestic abuse as a "dirty little national secret."
"Even just 20 years ago, few people wanted to talk about violence against women as a national topic, let alone [as] something to do something about," Biden said then. "No one even back then denied that kicking your wife in the stomach, or smashing her in the face, or pushing her down the stairs in public was repugnant. But our society basically turned a blind eye, and hardly anyone ever directly intervened. And no one, virtually no one, called it a crime."
Biden echoed similar sentiments during Friday's speech. He called domestic abuse "the most pervasive form of violence that exists in this country," and cited strides made in victim support and violence prevention in the decades since he wrote VAWA.
Back then, Biden said, "I was told I was going to be breaking up families for what I was going to do."