11.14.19

Reed, Whitehouse Join Senate Democrats in Introducing House-Passed Violence Against Women Act

VAWA reauthorization passed House with bipartisan support

Washington, DC – Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and every Senate Democrat in introducing companion legislation to the House-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.  The bill, which would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) through 2024, preserves advancements made in previous reauthorizations and includes a number of additional improvements to the current law.

“This is lifesaving legislation that helps protect thousands of victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking each year.  It includes resources and tools for law enforcement to stop abusers, and helps survivors with advocacy, housing, legal assistance and other essential services.  Instead of shutting down rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters, and depriving survivors of needed services, Republicans should join Democrats in advancing a strong, bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill,” said Senator Reed.

“The Senate must act quickly and in bipartisan fashion to reauthorize the expired Violence Against Women Act that has for years helped prevent domestic abuse and secure justice for survivors,” said Senator Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “This legislation would strengthen protections for women and has already passed the House with bipartisan support.”

The House passed the bill 263-158, with 33 Republicans voting yes.

Key provisions in the bill:

  • Reauthorizes and updates Whitehouse’s SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
  • Protects Native American women by improving tribal access to federal crime information databases and reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking for all federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives.
  • Explicitly states that grant recipients are allowed to train staff and others on identifying and stopping discrimination against LGBT individuals.  Service providers currently remain uncertain about whether they can use grants to train for this.
  • Expands grants under the Public Health Service Act to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve.
  • Provides services, protection, and justice for young victims of violence, including extending the Rape Prevention and Education grant program, addressing bullying of young people, improving grants focused on prevention education for students and expanding relevant training for school-based and campus health centers.
  • Preserves and expands housing protections for survivors.
  • Provides economic security assistance for survivors by reauthorizing the National Resource Center on Workplace Responses.  Protects employees from being fired because they are survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence and protects survivors’ eligibility to receive unemployment insurance.
  • Enhances judicial and law enforcement tools through reauthorization of the Justice Department’s STOP Violence Against Women Formula Program, known as the STOP Program. Authorizes the use of STOP Program grants to expand the use of grant funding for programs focused on increasing survivor, law enforcement and community safety; increase legal assistance for dependent children in appropriate circumstances; and develop and enforce firearm surrender policies.
  • Protects the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women from being merged or consolidated into any other Justice Department office.
  • Helps prevent “intimate partner” homicides by including provisions expanding firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence from possessing firearms, prohibiting persons convicted of misdemeanor stalking from possessing firearms, and prohibiting individuals subject to ex parte protective orders from possessing firearms.

 

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