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Katko Bregman

Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman speaks at a press conference in September. U.S. Rep. John Katko is pictured in back. Katko, R-Camillus, invited Bregman to be his guest at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday. 

To highlight the need for a long-term reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, U.S. Rep. John Katko invited Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman to be his guest at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday. 

Katko, R-Camillus, announced Bregman would be his guest during a Facebook Live interview with The Citizen Monday.  With the invitation, he also wants to highlight Vera House's work. 

"She's one of the great community advocates we have here in central New York and she does a wonderful job," Katko said of Bregman. "I want to honor her with that and honor her goal to try to get (the Violence Against Women Act) reauthorized." 

Vera House, a nonprofit organization based in Syracuse, seeks to prevent and respond to domestic and sexual violence. Bregman became executive director in 2001. 

Bregman said in an interview Monday that Katko's office called on Thursday to invite her to the State of the Union. She arrived in Washington Monday. 

Before Trump's address, Bregman plans to meet with national advocates to discuss the Violence Against Women Act. She will join Katko for meetings later in the day. 

"It's a tremendous honor to be invited as the congressman's guest for something as historic as a State of the Union address, but particularly to have it focused on his commitment to ensuring legislation passed that addresses the needs we see every day just means more than words can express," Bregman said. 

Bregman and Vera House hosted Katko in September for a press conference calling on Congress to pass a long-term reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The Violence Against Women Act is a 1994 law that includes protections for domestic violence survivors and established programs to support those affected domestic and sexual violence. 

Congress last passed a long-term reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. The measure was due to expire Sept. 30, but Congress passed a continuing resolution that included a short-term renewal of the law. 

However, when the government shutdown occurred in December, the Violence Against Women Act expired. It was reauthorized, albeit briefly, in late January when Congress passed a short-term funding bill to reopen the government. 

Katko is hopeful that Congress will pass a permanent or long-term reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. 

"We gotta get it done," he said. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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