Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued the following statement on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, a bill she introduced one year ago tomorrow:
“Tomorrow marks one year since I introduced a Senate bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives. It’s a shame the Republican-controlled Senate still refuses to bring it up for a vote.
“Our bill isn’t a Democratic or Republican bill, it’s a survivor’s bill. It was written by the people on the ground who understand what is needed to prevent violence against women and help survivors recover.
“Survivors shouldn’t be forced to wait this long for Congress to act. It’s particularly troubling that we haven’t reauthorized VAWA entering the winter months and during another spike in coronavirus cases, a situation that will leave too many survivors trapped indoors with their abusers.
“It’s time for my Senate colleagues to start listening to the advocates and help us pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization. Survivors can’t wait any longer for us to pass this important bill.”
Key provisions in the bill:
- Protects Native American women by improving tribal access to federal crime information databases and reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking for all federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives.
- Explicitly states that grant recipients are allowed to train staff and others on identifying and stopping discrimination against LGBT individuals. Service providers currently remain uncertain about whether they can use grants to train for this.
- Reauthorizes and updates the SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to violence and engage men in preventing violence.
- Expands grants under the Public Health Service Act to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve.
- Provides services, protection and justice for young victims of violence, including extending the Rape Prevention and Education grant program, addressing bullying of young people, improving grants focused on prevention education for students and expanding relevant training for school-based and campus health centers.
- Preserves and expands housing protections for survivors.
- Provides economic security assistance for survivors by reauthorizing the National Resource Center on Workplace Responses. Protects employees from being fired because they are survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence and protects survivors’ eligibility to receive unemployment insurance.
- Enhances judicial and law enforcement tools through reauthorization of the Justice Department’s STOP Violence Against Women Formula Program, known as the STOP Program. Authorizes the use of STOP Program grants to expand the use of grant funding for programs focused on increasing survivor, law enforcement and community safety; increase legal assistance for dependent children in appropriate circumstances; and develop and enforce firearm surrender policies.
- Protects the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women from being merged or consolidated into any other Justice Department office.
- Helps prevent “intimate partner” homicides by including provisions expanding firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence from possessing firearms, prohibiting persons convicted of misdemeanor stalking from possessing firearms and prohibiting individuals subject to ex parte protective orders from possessing firearms.