Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today urged his colleagues in the Senate to move quickly to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Included in the bill are two provisions that Bennet cosponsored -- the Campus SaVE Act, which aims to increase safety on college campuses, and the SAFER Act, which would help reduce the national backlog of rape kits.
"The Violence Against Women Act would provide victims of sexual assault and domestic violence with critical and much-needed resources as they grapple with the difficult work of transitioning from crisis to stability," Bennet said. "It would also improve safety for women on college campuses and would help reduce our national backlog of rape kits, giving law enforcement agencies more tools to pursue justice. I urge the Senate to reauthorize this bill without delay. These victims and survivors deserve our steadfast support."
VAWA advances efforts to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bill provides essential resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to non-profit organizations that supply essential services for victims and survivors. The act was originally enacted in 1994 as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It expired in 2011 and was reauthorized by the Senate last year. However, the House of Representatives failed to bring either the Senate bill or its own version up for consideration.
VAWA includes a provision based on the bipartisan Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or the Campus SaVE Act, which Bennet cosponsored. This measure would increase safety on college campuses by improving reporting of incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as increasing transparency by improving information about schools' prevention programs and disciplinary actions.
VAWA also includes a provision based on the bipartisan SAFER Act, re-introduced earlier this year by Bennet and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The SAFER Act is designed to reduce the national backlog of rape kits by helping state and local governments conduct audits of rape kits in law enforcement storage facilities and increasing available funds for crime labs to process those kits. The SAFER Act passed the Senate with unanimous support in December at the end of the last session. A slightly different version passed in the House. However, Congress did not work out the differences between the two bills before the 112th Session adjourned and they expired.