Democrat Congressman Brian Higgins announced the House of Representatives approved H.R. 1585, The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019. Initially passed in 1994 and fully reauthorized four times since, most recently in 2013, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) ensured access to essential services for victims of domestic violence and abuse and established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
While the rate of domestic violence in the U.S. has declined by more than 50% since 1994, instances of domestic violence still occur to an estimated one in three women.
Passed by a bipartisan vote of 263-158, H.R. 1585 makes further improvements and investments that strengthen domestic violence prevention and justice, reauthorizing the programs under VAWA through 2024. The Senate will further consider the legislation.
Higgins, a cosponsor of the bill, said, “This overdue reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act represents another important step in strengthening and updating the tools that victims and the justice system have in continuing to reduce and prevent domestic violence and abuse. I’m proud to support this robust, bipartisan legislation and commend the critically important improvements it makes on this issue.”
Among the provisions in VAWA reauthorization are:
•Increased funding authorization for the CDC’s rape prevention and education program from $50 million annually to $150 million.
•Improved services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking by reauthorizing and improving important grants so that they provide services to victims who have disabilities and are older Americans.
•Enhanced tools for law enforcement to fight violence and abuse, including reauthorizations of grants and establishment of pilot programs that will investigate alternative methods of ensuring survivor safety and perpetrator accountability.
•Increased protection for Native American women, by improving tribal access to federal crime databases and creating better systems for holding non-Native perpetrators of domestic violence or abuse accountable.
•Help for survivors who live in public, subsidized, and assisted housing, including grants that assist survivors at risk of becoming homeless.
•Additional funding to the National Resource Center on Workplace Responses, which assists victims of domestic and sexual violence, and adds protections against being fired for employees who are victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.
•Protected status for the Office on Violence Against Women from being merged or consolidated with other offices within the Department of Justice.
•Protects against “intimate partner” homicides by extending the prohibition on domestic abusers from owning guns to include those convicted of stalking misdemeanors, as well as expanding the definition of “intimate partner.”
The legislation is supported by more than 1,300 organizations, including the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Law Center, National Association of Hispanic Organizations, AFL-CIO, UAW, NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, National Council of Churches, and National Congress of American Indians.