Bipartisan bill would provide critical resources for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today urged his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which passed the Senate two weeks ago with broad bipartisan support, 78-22.
The House’s version of the bill excludes measures that would provide added protections for LGBT individuals, immigrants, Native Americans, and college students. Tomorrow, the House is scheduled to vote upon both versions of the bill.
“Just two weeks ago in the Senate, we came together in a bipartisan way – 78 out of 100 Senators – to pass the Violence Against Women Act and provide much-needed resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Bennet said. “The House has stripped out essential pieces of that bill. The victims who need this support shouldn’t be held hostage by political games in Washington. I urge the House to reject the incomplete bill and pass the Senate version of VAWA.”
Unlike the Senate bill, the House version of the bill does not contain measures that would provide added protections for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The House version also excludes the bipartisan Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or the Campus SaVE Act, which Bennet cosponsored and introduced last year. This provision 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.
VAWA advances efforts to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking through a combination of victim services and prevention and education programs. The bill provides critical resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute crimes and to non-profit organizations that supply essential services for victims and survivors.
VAWA was originally enacted as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It was reauthorized easily in 2000 and 2005, but expired in 2011. Last year, it was renewed by the Senate, but the House failed to take it up for a vote, or to offer its own version. This year, the Senate renewed the bill on February 12.