Rep. Waxman Vows to Work for Swift Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Jan 23, 2013 Issues: Foreign Aid & Human Rights

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Rep. Henry A. Waxman joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers, Rep. Gwen Moore, and more than 150 colleagues to reintroduce the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

“The Violence Against Women Act represents a firm promise:  no woman should ever be forced to feel unsafe or insecure in her own home and no woman should ever suffer in silence in the face of domestic violence,” said Rep. Waxman.  “Democrats and Republicans must come together to ensure that America’s women are never again forced to live in fear.  I will continue to work hard for the strongest VAWA possible as the House and Senate work to pass this historic measure without further delay.”

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act to change attitudes toward domestic violence, foster awareness of domestic violence, improve services and provisions for victims, and revise the manner in which the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence.  The legislation created new programs within the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services that aimed to reduce domestic violence and improve the response to and recovery from domestic violence incidents.

Last Congress, the Senate passed S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, by a strong bipartisan vote of 68-31.  S. 1925 would have made important improvements to the law by redefining "underserved populations" to include those who may be discriminated against based on religion, sexual orientation or gender identity; granting Indian tribes special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over non-tribal victims and/or perpetrators; and expanding the definition of cyberstalking to include use of "any electronic communication device or electronic communication system of interstate commerce."  However, the Republican leadership in the House refused to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor, and VAWA failed to secure reauthorization in the last Congress.

The new reauthorization legislation will extend and strengthen VAWA’s existing provisions, and expand protections for the LGBT community and Native Americans.  The legislation already has support from Senators on both sides of the aisle, including key Republican women in the Senate.