Washington—The Senate today passed the omnibus government funding bill that includes the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act, authored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
The bill, which would reauthorize VAWA through 2027, preserves advancements made in previous reauthorizations and includes a number of additional improvements to the current law.
“I’m grateful our bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act is included in the omnibus government funding bill,” said Senator Feinstein. “This is a major advancement for protecting women from domestic violence and sexual assault – a tragedy faced by one in three women in this country. Passing this legislation to prevent domestic violence and support survivors is long overdue and I’m pleased the House and Senate have passed it and it’s heading to the president’s desk.”
“For three years, I’ve worked diligently with Democrats and Republicans to modernize the Violence Against Women Act to ensure my fellow survivors are empowered and have access to the support they need. I’m thrilled this important legislation is one step closer to becoming law,” said Senator Ernst, a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“Countless lives have been saved since the Violence Against Women Act was first enacted. It is long past time to not just reauthorize this critical program, but modernize it to meet the evolving needs of survivors,” said Senator Durbin. “Passing our reauthorization bill represents the very best of Washington: a bipartisan coalition coming together to prove this country’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable. We need to ensure every survivor, whether in rural Alaska or urban Illinois, has help in a moment of crisis.”
“Our goal with VAWA is to ensure that women are safe and that every victim has a path to justice. I’m proud that our legislation – which we crafted on a strong bipartisan basis – will soon become federal law. Due to the work of countless advocates and survivors, I’m confident it will improve lives and increase safety for women across the country,” said Senator Murkowski. “In 2020, more than half of the women surveyed in Alaska had experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence or both in their lifetime. We know we have to address the ongoing crisis of violence – and now, the necessary resources are on the way to create safer communities for all women.”
Key provisions of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act:
- Provides services, protection and justice for young victims of violence, including extending the Rape Prevention and Education grant program and improving grants focused on prevention education for students in institutions of higher education.
- Enhances judicial and law enforcement tools through reauthorization of the Justice Department’s STOP Violence Against Women Formula Program, known as the STOP Program, and expansion of the STOP Program to better support survivors who are 50 years of age or older and survivors with disabilities.
- Reauthorizes and updates the SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to domestic violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
- Provides economic security assistance for survivors by reauthorizing the National Resource Center on Workplace Response. Expands the program to support sexual harassment victims and ensure that the program’s resources are available to private-sector businesses with fewer than 20 employees in addition to public-sector entities.
- Improves the medical response to instances of domestic violence and sexual assault, including expanding access to medical forensic examinations after a sexual assault for survivors who live in rural communities.
- Protects Indian women by improving tribal access to federal crime information databases and clarifying the existence of tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking and stalking that takes place on tribal lands. It also includes an Alaska pilot program that will empower a limited number of tribes to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes that occur in Alaska Native villages.
- Authorizes a grant program to provide community-specific services for LGBT survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Directs the Office on Violence Against Women to provide technical assistance and training to victim service providers and organizations that are seeking to work with survivors.