|On March 8, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), introduced the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2021. The legislation authorizes funding for a variety of critical grant programs, including for victim services, prevention, training, education, enforcement, economic stability, and other programs that support survivors and help them to heal and to access justice.
VAWA’s authorization expired in 2018. Last Congress, the House passed a bipartisan reauthorization, but the Senate failed to take it up. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 is a slightly updated version of the bill passed last Congress. It addresses the challenges identified by survivors and by domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and other organizations that serve survivors. It has now been eight years since VAWA was last authorized. The landmark legislation, enacted in 1994 under the leadership of then Senate Judiciary Chair Joe Biden, responds to our nation’s crisis of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Subcommittee Chair Jackson Lee: “After its initial enactment a quarter-century ago, VAWA—through policy reforms, interstate cooperation and grant allocation—has been pivotal in providing a national response to protecting half of the population. Equally important, it has ushered in a seismic transformation on how society perceives violence against women. The law has enhanced and improved the lives of girls and women, boys and men. It has unquestionably improved the national response to these terrible crimes.”
Chairman Nadler: “I am proud to reintroduce the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 (VAWA) in support of women and all survivors who have been subjected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The last year has demonstrated the immense needs to reauthorize and improve VAWA. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in domestic violence and other crimes. As demand for services has increased, service providers have seen funding drop while caseloads skyrocket. It is imperative that Congress act now to increase funding for victims services, expand training and education for providers, and strengthen and improve VAWA programs to respond to this crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill as quickly as possible and ensuring that every survivor – women, men, and children – has the resources they need to lead safe and healthy lives free from violence and fear.”
Representative Fitzpatrick: “Congress must continue to aggressively combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by passing our bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021. VAWA has been instrumental in improving and enhancing our nation’s response to safeguarding women and children from abuse, anguish, and violence. Congress has historically reauthorized VAWA with broad, bipartisan agreement, and I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to ensure that VAWA continues to protect victims and survivors across the nation.”
Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI): “As a survivor and a member of Congress, I want to use my power to protect other people from what I have experienced. With domestic violence cases on the rise during the pandemic, we need the Violence Against Women Act signed into law now. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in introducing this essential legislation because survivors cannot wait.”
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 improves current law in several important respects:
-Enhances and expands victim services;
-Reauthorizes grant programs to improve the criminal justice response to gender-based violence and expands allowable uses;
-Invests in prevention;
-Improves access to housing for victims and survivors;
-Helps survivors gain and maintain economic independence;
-Ends impunity for non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands;
-Supports Communities of Color;
-Protects victims of dating violence from firearm homicide;
-Maintains existing protections for all survivors; and
-Improves the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2021 is supported by the National Task Force To End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF), a large and diverse group of national, tribal, state, territorial, and local organizations, advocates, and individuals that focus on the development, passage and implementation of effective public policy to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
A copy of the bill is available here.
A section-by-section analysis is available here.