Lawmakers Reach New Agreement on Violence Against Women Act

Lawmakers Reach New Agreement on Violence Against Women Act

( – When President Joe Biden was a senator in Delaware, he introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which passed into law in 1994. However, the protective law’s supportive programs expired in 2018, and Congress couldn’t agree on a bill to reauthorize or update the law – until now.

On February 9, Republican and Democratic senators announced they came to a bipartisan agreement to reignite, update, and strengthen the essential piece of legislation credited for saving victims of domestic violence all over the country. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) stood together at a press conference to announce the updated legislation.

Violence Against Women Act

In order for the VAWA to remain effective, there must be supportive programs in place, but the last time lawmakers reauthorized support for the law was in 2013. The senators stated they worked across party lines for three years to draft agreed-upon legislation to protect abused women. If passed, the update would not only help to prevent domestic violence, but it would support survivors of such abuse and hold the guilty parties responsible for their crimes.

The framework includes rape prevention and protection services for young women, emergency housing support, rural and culturally-specific services for victims, legal support, gun restrictions for perpetrators, additional forensic training for sexual assault examiners, and more directed support to cover prosecution of non-Native offenders in tribal courts.

Many legislators and activists pushed for the essential bipartisan reauthorization, including actress Angelina Jolie and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Feinstein pointed out that the bill doesn’t close the “boyfriend loophole,” which would prevent a domestic abuser, not married to the victim, from owning a firearm. Some felt adding the language in the bill was “just gun control,” so legislators negotiated the provision out of the reauthorization plan.

Passing the Measure

Although there’s no word on when the Senate will bring the bill to the floor for a vote, Durbin told the media they’re very close to gathering enough support to pass the bill. Congress is currently negotiating spending legislation for the year, leaving some questioning the cost impact of the new bill. However, Murkowski told reporters the measure is not likely to affect spending, indicating she didn’t believe it would be a concern during negotiations.

The bottom line is that many Republicans and Democrats in the Senate agree the victims of domestic violence need ongoing and up-to-date protections, and they’re confident the majority of their colleagues will agree by passing the legislation.

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