Senate Passes Bennet-Backed Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Bill Includes Bennet Provision to Increase Safety on College Campuses

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today applauded Senate passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), which he cosponsored. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 68-31.

Included in the bill was a provision Bennet backed to increase safety on college campuses.

“Too often, victims of sexual assault and domestic violence do not feel comfortable coming forward, have to wait far too long for justice or do not have access to resources that can help them,” said Bennet. “This bill will help provide more education programs and resources to victims and expand law enforcement’s tools to prosecute cases of assault and abuse. Reporting of incidents has increased since the Violence Against Women’s Act was first authorized in 1994. I hope this bill helps even more women come forward to get the help they need and give law enforcement support to prevent more crimes.”

VAWA advances efforts to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bill provides essential resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to non-profit organizations that supply essential services for victims and survivors. The act was originally enacted in 1994 as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

VAWA included a provision based on the bipartisan Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or the Campus SaVE Act, which Bennet cosponsored. This measure would increase safety on college campuses by improving reporting of incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as increasing transparency by improving information about schools’ prevention programs and disciplinary actions.

A number of sexual assault advocacy groups and women’s groups supported this bill, including the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA).

“CCASA is extremely grateful for Senator Bennet’s commitment to the reauthorization of VAWA,” said Karen E. Moldovan, CCASA program manager. “Because of funding and program development in the Violence Against Women Act, communities are able to offer long-term support services for survivors of sexual assault, while working to successfully investigate and prosecute offenders of this horrific crime.”

Since VAWA was originally enacted, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent. More victims are coming forward and receiving lifesaving services to help them move from crisis to stability.

Specifically, the reauthorization bill:

  • Stresses the need to effectively respond to sexual assault crimes and recognizes the continuing crisis of inadequate reporting, enforcement, and services for victims of sexual assault by adding new purpose areas and a 20% set-aside in the Services-Training-Officers-Prosecutors (STOP) state communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Native American spouses and dating partners in tribal country.
  • Strengthens housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs.
  • Promotes accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes.
  • Provides LGBT victims of domestic violence with greater access to support services.
  • Focuses on the programs that have been most successful, consolidates programs and reduces specific authorization levels for more efficient budgeting.