Mark Udall called on Congress to quickly reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which he championed on the Senate floor shortly before it passed the chamber with broad bipartisan support. The lapsing of VAWA, due to the U.S. House of Representatives' failure to pass it before the end of the year, cuts off federal support for programs that crack down on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
"Violence against women is unacceptable, and it is critical that we do everything we can to ensure that groups dedicated to combating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking have the resources they need," Udall said. "That is why the House's lack of action last year is so discouraging. Women in Colorado and across our great nation expect better. I am calling on the House to reauthorize this law and help law enforcement officers confront perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse; provide safe and secure support services to survivors of crimes; and establish a National Domestic Violence Hotline."'
The Senate passed the VAWA in April 2012 with broad bipartisan support and sent it to the House where it languished before dying at the end of the 112th session of Congress.
The Senate-passed reauthorization provided resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to nonprofit organizations that supply services for victims and survivors. The bill would have modified the existing VAWA to include some of the following important updates:
Improved response to violence against Native American women;
Increased accountability measures for grant programs, in response to a series of Justice Department inspector general audits that found problems with accounting;
Greater access to support services for LGBT victims of domestic violence; and,
A five-year minimum sentence for aggravated sexual assault.