In one of his first legislative actions as a newly-elected Member of Congress, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today signed on as an original cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2013. This inclusive bill would significantly strengthen the ability of the federal, state and local law enforcement to combat instances of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Congressman Kildee urged the Speaker of the House John Boehner to immediately take up the reauthorization of VAWA, which expired at the end of the year since the previous Congress failed to reauthorize the law.
"Unfortunately, House Republicans continue to delay and have turned protecting women from violence into a yet another partisan issue. We should be protecting all women from violence, not picking and choosing which women should get receive the services they need," Congressman Kildee said. "The Violence Against Women Act has received overwhelming bipartisan support since it was enacted and has proven effective time and time again at protecting women from violence. I urge Speaker Boehner to immediately take up the reauthorization of VAWA without delay so we can work to reduce instances of violence against women in Michigan and across the nation."
VAWA, a landmark piece of legislation, was first passed by Congress in 1994 and subsequently reauthorized twice, each time with strong bipartisan support. The law significantly transformed the nation's response to violence against women and provided significant resources to states and local communities to combat violence.
Last year in April, the U.S. Senate passed a VAWA reauthorization bill, S. 1925, on a strong 68-31 bipartisan vote. S. 1925 contained various long-overdue updates to existing law, including protections for Native American women, undocumented women and those in same-sex relationships. However, the House of Representatives passed a partisan bill, H.R. 4970, that failed to include critical protections victims of domestic violence that were included in the Senate bill, including stripping key tribal jurisdiction provisions for crimes committed on Indian reservations. The House-passed bill also did not include the Senate-passed language that would help address instances of dating violence and sexual assault in higher education institutions.
"The VAWA reauthorization bill introduced today provides tribal governments the tools they need to begin addressing the horrific rate of violence against Native American women on Indian reservations," said Stephanie Peters, a Tribal Council member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and former Magistrate of the Saginaw Chippewa tribal court. "We thank Congressman Dan Kildee for supporting this inclusive bill that will help to reduce the assault rates of tribal women."
Since VAWA was first enacted, cases of domestic violence have fallen by 67 percent. Over one million women have used the justice system to obtain protective orders against their batterers. VAWA has averted more than $14 billion dollars in societal costs as interventions have lowered domestic violence frequency and sexual assault rates. The law has also succeeded in bringing communities together to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.