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House votes to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

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The House of Representatives voted 244-172 on Wednesday to pass a full reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which had expired in 2018.

The legislation would improve services for victims, expand housing protections for survivors of violence, and fund essential grants for law enforcement professionals, sexual assault educators, and nurses.

It would also reauthorize critical funding for essential services that help survivors, as well as strengthen grant and education programs that work to prevent and treat instances of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking.

Seventh District Democrat Abigail Spanberger helped introduce the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, an effort being led Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01).

“Across our communities, domestic violence and sexual assault are often invisible. And because these horrific crimes are frequently hidden in the shadows — particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, too many abusers go unnoticed, unreported, and unprosecuted. We need to respond to this urgent challenge by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act,” Spanberger said.

“This VAWA reauthorization takes a holistic and community-wide approach to combatting domestic violence — including on our college campuses, within traditionally underserved populations, and among our LGBTQ neighbors. As domestic violence cases rise, we must redouble our efforts to provide trauma-informed care for survivors and give healthcare professionals the tools they need to build a structure of wraparound support for victims and their families. This legislation has been a priority for President Biden throughout his time in office, and I urge our colleagues in the Senate to listen to the voices of the vulnerable and send this legislation to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

“It is Congress’s duty to protect and defend the millions of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. “I am pleased by the House’s bipartisan passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which will ensure women have the resources needed to seek justice, receive care, and thrive. By passing this bill, the House fulfilled its responsibility of reaffirming protections for survivors.”

Eighth District Democrat Don Beyer also voted with the majority.

“The pandemic sadly made it abundantly clear if anyone had doubts that the Violence Against Women Act is still a sorely needed piece of legislation,” Beyer said. “We owe it to victims and survivors to do all we can to protect them and fight domestic violence. Congress should do all it can to ensure that all women have the resources and support they need to seek justice, receive care, and rebuild their lives, and that includes sending this bill to the President’s desk.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a tragic rise in domestic violence and sexual assault cases in Virginia and across the country. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we address this urgent and widespread issue and protect survivors,” said Fourth District Democrat Donald McEachin, who voted to approve the bill. “The Violence Against Women Act tells survivors: you deserve to lead safe and heathy lives, free from violence and fear, and I am proud to have joined my colleagues in reauthorizing this legislation, which will ensure that all survivors – women, men and children – have the resources and support they need to seek justice, receive care and rebuild their lives.”

First District Republican Rob Wittman voted against the reauthorization.

“I fully support the original Violence Against Women Act. That’s not the bill we voted on today,” Wittman said. “After House Democrats allowed the original Violence Against Women Act to expire in 2019, they have twice introduced a reauthorization featuring highly partisan provisions, that has no chance of becoming law. These provisions actually weaken protections for women by curtailing the resources available to law enforcement for prosecuting those who commit crimes against women, as well as diluting the resources available to victims by expanding them to men and other populations. Furthermore, these provisions promote unproven methods of victim treatment, infringe upon Second Amendment rights without due process, and fail to provide reasonable exemptions for religious organizations. VAWA was bipartisan for nearly two decades, and Congress must move forward with a bill that returns to the law’s original intent.”

Details

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act would:

  • Enhance judicial and law enforcement tools to combat violence against women. The bill would preserve dedicated funding for legal assistance for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. Additionally, the reauthorization legislation would preserve critical programs for communities of color and enhance protections for Native American women.
  • Improve services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bipartisan VAWA reauthorization would preserve dedicated funding to advance services for survivors with disabilities and to preserves funding to educate professionals on abuse later in life.
  • Provide services, protection and justice for young victims of violence. The legislation would improve campus grant programs to support institutions of higher education in developing and disseminating comprehensive prevention education for all students.
  • Strengthen the U.S. healthcare systems response to domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. The bipartisan bill would fund and improve screening for victimization and perpetration of intimate partner and sexual violence across federally-funded healthcare programs. Provisions would also be included for trauma-informed protocols for screening, assessment, and intervention with sexual assault victims.
  • Provide safe homes for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The legislation would increase access to housing protections for survivors and add language to strengthen confidentiality agreements.

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