Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today introduced the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act.

 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.

“This bill is the result of a true bipartisan effort, written in partnership with those working to prevent violence and support survivors,” Senator Feinstein said. “We have been working for three years to reach this agreement and reauthorize this important law. This bill provides important protections to survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. I hope the Senate will move quickly to pass it.”

“As a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, I know firsthand the horrific experience too many women face at the hands of a perpetrator. That’s why for three years I’ve worked diligently and across the aisle to craft a bill that will modernize this important law to ensure my fellow survivors are supported and empowered. I’m proud our work resulted in bipartisan legislation that can do just that,” said Senator Ernst.

“This bill represents the very best of Washington: a bipartisan coalition coming together to prove this country’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable,” said Senator Durbin. “A modernized Violence Against Women Act will strengthen what has been a critical lifeline to victims and survivors of abuse for nearly three decades. We need to ensure every survivor, whether they live in rural Alaska or urban Illinois, has help in a moment of crisis.”

“The provisions in this reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act will not only address the barriers survivors face in seeking justice, but will save countless lives,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bipartisan legislation works to empower victims, bolster supportive services to those who have been victims of violence, strengthen law enforcement, and improve existing statutes to close loopholes, and correct injustices that have existed even before VAWA’s inception. Communities all across Alaska have lacked means to seek help or justice for far too long. This legislation addresses those existing problems and will help communities in preventing violence toward women and children and keep them safe. That is our ultimate goal.”

 In addition to Senators Feinstein, Ernst, Durbin and Murkowski, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

Key provisions of the bill:

  • 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.
  • 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.