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Current Issues (LEP, Secure Communities, Immigrant Specific, U-Visa)
VAWA Reauthorization 2012
The 112th Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA in 2012, but fortunately, a bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (S. 47) was reintroduced in the Senate on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID). Below are resources that the National Latin@ Network contributed to as part of our efforts to promote a version of VAWA in 2012 that would protect ALL survivors, including immigrant women. To learn more about the current status of VAWA reuthorzation, please visit our VAWA Reauthorization 2013 page.
VAWA was reintroduced in the Introduced by Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Crapo (R-ID) on November 30, 2011, Senate Bill S.1925 passed on April 26, 2012 on a vote of 68-31. This bill kept all existing protections for immigrant victims in place and improves upon them. On April 27, 2012 Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL) introduced the House of Representative’s version of a VAWA reauthorization bill, H.R.4970. On May 16, 2012 H.R. 4970 passed the House by a narrow margin of 222-205.
H.R. 4970 would undermine years of bipartisan progress of advancing protections for immigrant victims. Some of H.R. 4970’s provisions would actually make immigrants more vulnerable and could endanger their lives with provisions that:
Create bureaucratic and burdensome requirements that will weaken protections for victims and delay access to safety under the VAWA self-petition process;
Impose arbitrary and unreasonable barriers for crime victims to apply for a U visa; and
Place victims on a path from report to deport and discourage victims of crime from cooperating with law enforcement by denying access to lawful permanent resident status to many victims, which in many cases could result in separating abused mothers from their American-born children.
Archived Resources from VAWA Reauthorion 2012
Referred to Appropriate Committee
Subcommittee Review and Mark Up
Committee Review, mark up and vote on bill
Chamber Debates and Votes on Bill
How a Bill
Becomes a Law
In the Congress there are two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The two chambers use the same process for passing legislation, although there are differences in rules and jurisdiction. During the 111th Congress (2009 - 2010), 10,237 bills were introduced and 366 were enacted.
How to Use the Infographic
We have created an infographic to demonstrate the legislative process and illustrate all the steps that a bill must go through before it becomes a law. Each box represents a unique step in the process. If you move your cursor over the boxes, text appears in the middle of the page that provides additional information related to that step in the process.
A Bill is Introduced
- Anyone may draft a bill (representative, a state legislature, the people, the executive branch).
- Only members of congress in the House or Senate can introduce the bill (by doing so, they become the sponsors of the bill).
Referred to Appropriate Committee
- After the bill is introduced, it is referred to an appropriate committee.
- The bill is examined carefully and if the committee does not act on a bill, the bill becomes “dead”.
Subcommittee Review and Markup
- Often, bills are referred to subcommittees for study and hearings.
- Hearings provide the opportunity to record the views of the executive branch, public officials and supporters, experts, and opponents of the legislation.
- When hearings are completed, the subcommittee may meet to make changes and amendments. The subcommittee then decides whether to report it (recommend it) to the full committee.
- If a subcommittee votes not to report legislation to the full committee, the bill dies.
Committee Review, Mark Up and Vote on Bill
- The full committee can hold hearings, and during markups, consider other amendments.
- The full committee votes to determine if the bill advances to the Floor of that chamber (House or Senate).
- The bill can fail in full committee and cannot advance without a full committee vote.
Chamber Debates and Votes on Bill
- Voting is done after debate and approval of any amendments.
- The bill is either passed or defeated.
Other Chamber Considers Bill
- If passed, the House or Senate sends the bill to the second chamber where the process repeats.
- The chamber may approve that bill as it was received, reject it, ignore it, or change it.
- It is formed when the actions of the other chamber significantly alter the bill to reconcile differences between the House and the Senate versions.
- If they are unable to reach an agreement, the legislation dies.
- If agreement is reached, a conference report is prepared describing the committee’s recommendations for changes.
- The House and Senate must approve the conference report.
Both Chambers Vote on Final Bill
- The House and Senate vote on the identical form of the bill.
- If either chamber does not approve the bill, it dies.
- If the House and Senate approve the bill in identical form, it is sent to the president.
- If the President approves of the legislation, it is signed and it becomes a law.
- If the President opposes the bill, it is vetoed.
- If the President takes no action for 10 days, while Congress is in session, it automatically becomes a law.
- If the President takes no action after the Congress has adjourned its second session, it is a “pocket veto” and the legislation dies.
- Congress may attempt to override a veto.
- If both the Senate and the House pass the bill by a two-thirds majority, the president’s veto is overruled and the bill becomes a law.
Nonprofit organizations, designated as a 501(c)(3), are able to do some “lobbying” as defined by the IRS, and there are many activities that are actually designated as advocacy which are permissible for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits are prohibited from any political activity which includes intervention in a political campaign to endorse or oppose any candidate for public office.
Why Engage in Policy Advocacy?
- Advocacy allows your organization to portray the on the ground experience of providing direct services to influence development of effective public policies,
- Advocacy helps bring the voices and lived realities of our communities to bear on policy decisions,
- Non-profits provide valuable perspectives in representing constituencies that have a limited voice in the policy process,
- Advocacy has the potential to improve policies that are responsive to the needs and realities of survivors as well as their children and families, and
- Advocacy encourages movement beyond a “One-size fits all” approach.
What Constitutes “Lobbying”?
Lobbying is a specific type of advocacy, and includes both direct and grassroots lobbying
- Direct lobbying is defined as Communication with a Legislator (including any government employee who may participate in the formulation of legislation) that expresses a view about Specific Legislation
- Grassroots lobbying is defined as Communication with the Public that expresses a View about Specific Legislation and Includes a Call to Action
Permissible Lobbying Activities for Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organizations with Non-Federal Funding:
There are two sets of IRS rules that organizations can choose to fall under:
- The “501(h) expenditure test”, which sets limits for the percentage of an organization’s budget that can be used on lobbying activities. (This method requires opting in); or
- The “insubstantial part” test provides that a nonprofit may engage in lobbying so long as it does not account for a “substantial part” of their activities. (These are the default rules)
Note: Non-profit organizations cannot use federal funds to support, oppose, or seek to change pending legislation. However, grantees of federal funding can participate in these lobbying activities with unrestricted, non-federal sources of funding within the generous limits above for 501(c)(3) organizations.
Filing the 501(h) election
Nonprofit organizations are able to remove the uncertainty of the “insubstantial part” test for lobbying activities and apply an expenditure test instead. Under the 501(h) election the nonprofit may spend the following amounts on lobbying activities:
|If the amount of exempt purpose expenditures is:||Lobbying nontaxable amount is:|
|≤ $500,000||20% of the exempt purpose expenditures|
|>$500,00 but ≤ $1,000,000||$100,000 plus 15% of the excess of exempt purpose expenditures over $500,000|
|> $1,000,000 but ≤ $1,500,000||$175,000 plus 10% of the excess of exempt purpose expenditures over $1,000,000|
|>$1,500,000||$225,000 plus 5% of the exempt purpose expenditures over $1,500,000|
Note: Not more than 25% of the funds permitted to be spent on lobbying activities can be spent on “Grassroots Lobbying”, as defined above.
Activities that are NOT Permissible for all Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit organizations CANNOT:
- Directly or indirectly participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office
- Contribute to political campaign funds
- Make public statements of position (verbal or written) on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office
- Ask candidate to sign pledges on any issue
Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
A guiding principle for a nonprofit’s permissible advocacy activities is to remain nonpartisan.
Nonprofit organizations CAN:
- Write letters and make calls to legislators
- Invite legislator to visit your program/event
- Conduct educational meetings with legislative offices and share stories
- Write letters to the editor in local media
- Send action alerts
- Prepare and distribute educational materials such as nonpartisan analysis, study, or research that presents all sides of an issue
- Respond to written requests for assistance from committees or other legislative bodies
- Engage in collaborative policy development with government agencies
- Challenge or support legislative proposals that would change the organization’s right to exist
- Examine broad social, economic, or similar problems
- Conduct voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides)
- Conduct activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives
Source IRS website here and here.
The following activities are not considered “Lobbying” and are permissible for all nonprofit 501(C)(3) organizations regardless of their funding source:
- Making available the results of nonpartisan analysis, study, or research;
- Providing technical advice or assistance to a government body, or to its committee or other subdivision, in response to a written request from the chair of that body (this is sort of a free pass to directly express a view about legislation to the relevant legislators);
- Self-defense communications with a governmental body regarding legislation which would affect your existence, your powers or duties, your tax-exempt status, or the deductibility of contributions to your group (note that fighting cuts in government funding for your cause is not self-defense);
- Discussing broad social issues, without mentioning specific legislation;
- Communicating with a government official or employee, other than for the purpose of influencing legislation (note that many important decisions, such as how to enforce or implement a law, are made by government agencies, and since their decisions are not legislation, even direct communications to agency officials about these decisions would not be lobbying);
- Communicating with members of your organization with respect to legislation and expressing a view about the legislation so long as the communication does not encourage members to take action regarding the legislation.
Source: Center for Nonprofit Management
“Lobbying and Advocacy: A guide to Federal Law” available at www.vawnet.org
Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest: www.clpi.org
Alliance for Justice: www.afj.org
OMB Watch: www.npaction.org or www.ombwatch.org
Center for Community Change: www.communitychange.org
National Center for Responsive Philanthropy: www.ncrp.org