The automatic across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, are set to take effect on Friday – a 1.2% reduction in increased federal spending in 2013, or about $44 billion out of $3.6 trillion.
Edwards called the cuts the “Republicans failure,” and said they are “taking a sledge hammer” to the nation’s domestic violence shelters and programs.
“The harm is real,” Edwards said. “230,000 victims will be calling crisis hotlines and those calls will go unanswered. 230,000 calls to crisis hotlines around the country.”
“So can you imagine that in the middle of the night a woman is being battered, she has her two children, she wants to get to safety, she places a phone call to a hotline and that line goes unanswered,” she said. “That’s what sequestration means to victims of domestic violence.”
“So I think that this is shameful, we all do,” Edwards said. “We also know that it can be stopped. And so here we are on a Thursday, set to go home for the weekend—first of all in America, working America doesn’t go home for the weekend on a Thursday. There’s time for us to stop this. The Republicans hold the gavel.”
“The Republicans have the ability to stop sequestration and the devastation to millions of women and children who are victims of domestic violence across this country,” she continued. “And it is really very shameful that they are going to go home this weekend without doing that.”
“And so for the women who are forced to stay in their homes with their abuser because there’s no place to go, because shelters have been cut, because hotlines go unanswered, that is on the hands of the GOP here in the House of Representatives.”
Edwards added that the solution to the sequester is to balance the “spending cuts with revenue.”
According to the Justice Department, however, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) operated on a budget of $412.5 million during fiscal year 2012, and has requested the same amount of funding for this fiscal year.
The sequester would amount to a 4.5 percent cut to OVW.