Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced that he has cosponsored the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill to provide support for victims of domestic violence. The VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2013 would provide critical support and protections to all victims of domestic and sexual violence, including Native American women, gay and lesbian victims, and battered immigrant women.
"The Violence Against Women Act is a critical bill that helps ensure support services are in place so that victims of domestic violence can protect themselves and their families," said Senator Lautenberg. "Last year, women were used as political pawns by House Republicans, and we can't let that happen again. The Senate should vote again to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act without delay and send a strong, unified message that this country does not tolerate brutality against anyone."
The Violence Against Women Act was originally enacted in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice--in 2000 and 2005--with unanimous Senate approval. The most recent extension expired in 2011. The law provides federal funding for programs and initiatives designed to help victims, and reauthorization is needed to ensure that local communities and law enforcement agencies get the full resources they need to fight domestic violence.
Last year, a bill to reauthorize VAWA that extended critical programs and updated the law by including non-discrimination protection for all victims--regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability--was approved in the Senate with bipartisan support, but Republican leadership in the House of Representatives refused to bring it up for a vote.
In New Jersey, more than 70,000 domestic violence offenses were reported by the police in 2011. Since 2006, nearly $30 million in federal funding has been provided to more than 40 domestic violence programs in New Jersey through VAWA.
Senator Lautenberg has a long history of protecting victims of domestic violence. He is the author of the "Domestic Violence Gun Ban," which prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from buying or possessing firearms. Since it was enacted in 1996, the law has succeeded in keeping guns out of the hands of abusers on approximately 200,000 occasions.