U.S. House Renews Violence Against Women Act

The United States House of Representatives voted last March 17 to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a landmark 1994 law that provides protections for victims of domestic abuse.

The House approved to reauthorize VAWA with a vote of 244-172 after it had expired in February 2019 and had previously gone through updates and reauthorizations in 2000, 2005, and 2013.

The bill reauthorizes grant programs for criminal justice response to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence and expands housing options for survivors.

“Among the lifesaving provisions, this authorization makes new investments in preventions, improved services for victims of domestic violence, improvements in the criminal justice response to gender-based violence and the health care system’s response, prevents intimate partner homicides and expands protections for victims and survivors – whether they are men or women,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the House Floor.

The House also added firearm restrictions to the current bill to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing or owning firearms.

However, the act faces an uncertain future in the Senate where Democrats and Republicans are evenly divided.

President Joe Biden, who wrote the law in 1994, urged the Senate to “bring a strong bipartisan coalition together to ensure the passage of VAWA.”

“This should not be a Democratic or Republican issue — it’s about standing up against the abuse of power and preventing violence,” Biden stated.

“Growing evidence shows that COVID-19 has only exacerbated the threat of intimate partner violence, creating a pandemic within a pandemic for countless women at risk for abuse. In short, this is an urgent crisis,” Biden also stated.

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