Today, Mark Udall celebrated the Senate's passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs that have helped to save lives and strengthen families throughout Colorado. Earlier on the Senate floor, Udall gave a speech highlighting the importance of VAWA in providing resources to programs that crack down on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and to support Colorado organizations helping survivors. The bipartisan bill passed by a vote of 68-31.
"We all agree that violence against women is unacceptable, and I'm proud my colleagues came together today to put our votes where our mouths are," said Udall, who was a co-sponsor of the reauthorization bill. "VAWA has been instrumental in making a difference in the lives of millions of women across our country, thousands in Colorado alone. It has helped law enforcement bring perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse to justice; provide safe and secure support services to survivors of crimes; and establish a National Domestic Violence Hotline. Now it can expand access to those resources for even more Americans who desperately need them."
For the past 18 years, VAWA has changed the way we think about -- and respond to -- domestic violence. The bill provides resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to non-profit organizations that supply services for victims and survivors. While in the House of Representatives, Udall voted twice to reauthorize VAWA. Earlier this year, he called on Coloradans to sign his petition and add their support for the bill.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act reauthorizes VAWA programs through the end of Fiscal Year 2016. In addition to reauthorizing existing programs, this bill also:
Improves the response to violence against Native American women.
Promotes accountability measures for grant programs, in response to a series of Justice Department inspector general audits that found problems with accounting.
Provides LGBT victims of domestic violence with greater access to support services.
Mandates a five-year minimum sentence for forcible rape.
Includes the campus safety provisions from the Campus SaVE Act (S.834), which Udall co-sponsored.
Makes changes to the existing U Visa program, which gives illegal immigrants who are the victims of violent crime in the United States an opportunity to gain legal status if they are, or will be, helpful to law enforcement and government officials.