US territories, DC seek greater share of federal grants to prevent sexual violence

Under that current law, the federal government gives a minimum of 1.5 percent of all grant money to each state, except Washington, D.C., and the Northern Mariana Islands; and the four other territories — American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — only receive 0.125 percent. Sablan's bill would strike that limit.

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The bill would also strike a sentence that requires the government to treat Washington as a territory, not a state, for the purposes of calculating grant awards.

VAWA first became law in 1994, and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005; the program is up for reauthorization again this year. The 2000 reauthorization led to the establishment of the Office of Violence Against Women, which distributes grants under the program.

The office distributed $453 million in grants in 2011.

Other co-sponsors of the bill are Dels. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Donna Christensen (D-VI), Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR).