Finally, all the work and advocacy for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the SAFER Act came to fruition as both bills passed the House today. Both are now heading to the President to be signed into law. Thanks to the many advocates around the nation who poured in their support through twitter, emails, phone calls, blogging, letters and visits to their representatives to send the message to pass these bills for the increased protection of victims of sexual and domestic violence. It has been a long road getting VAWA reauthorized and the SAFER ACT passed.
VAWA will extend protections to victims of violence and add new protections more specifically to LGBTQ victims, tribal victims and undocumented victims. These provisions, although really a non-political issue and really ought to be nonpartisan, ended up in a partisan split and were hard fought to be passed. VAWA was introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). It passed the Senate earlier this month but struggled with the House Republicans. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) was lead sponsor of the House bill. It renews dozens of anti-sexual violence and domestic violence programs, including funding for local services and training for law enforcement.
The SAFER ACT will set in place provisions to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases and work faster to remove rapists from the community. The bipartisan SAFER Act was led by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). It reallocates existing spending to ensure that more goes directly to testing cases. It also requires that states and cities that receive SAFER funds audit and publicly disclose their backlog for the first time.
This is exciting and a huge victory to not only get VAWA reauthorized but to have the proposed provisions added on for LGBTQ and Tribal victims of violence. This work has been a uniting goal for the many national and state coalitions public policy staff over the last few years. Global activisim events like One Billion Rising were also instrumental in raising awareness, educating the public on the issues, and organizing communities to act.
- Congress Reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act (jezebel.com)