Lawmakers urge Congress to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act following bill’s expiration

A group of senators is currently working together to introduce a bipartisan bill to reinstate the Violence Against Woman Act since it is now expired. The act, also known as VAWA, put in place critical resources for domestic violence survivors.

As the act was signed into law in 1994, it established the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and it even covers a variety of things from legal protections for survivors to funding for shelters.

The law is required to be authorized every five years, and it has not been reapproved since 2013. Congress most recently passed a short-term extension to the act in 2018, but that provision expired the following year. 

Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst has been trying to have VAWA reauthorized since its expiration, as she herself is a domestic violence survivor.

Attempts to pass the bill once again have been stalled by certain sections of the bill that are controversial like stricter gun control measures, which Ernst’s fellow Republicans generally oppose. “It is frustrating because I did work in a shelter environment,” Ernst commented. “This is not a gun control bill. It is a violence against women bill.” 

Ernst, along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, reached a framework agreement in order to modernize VAWA. The group included Senators Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Lisa Murkowski.

A refreshed version of the act would strengthen rape prevention and education efforts as well as expand and authorize programs to ensure certain groups of survivors have access. Additionally, it would build on the 2013 reauthorization by broadening criminal jurisdiction to tribal courts in order to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual offenses and other crimes. 




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