U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today applauded the Senate's bipartisan vote to pass the the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill and provide support for victims of domestic violence. Lautenberg is a co-sponsor of the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2013, which 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 bill was approved in the Senate by 78-22 and must now be approved in the House of Representatives.
"The Senate came together on behalf of victims of domestic and sexual violence and voiced our support for critical victim protections," said Lautenberg. "This is not a Democratic or Republican issue--it is about protecting women, children, and all victims of abuse. The House must stop playing politics and take action immediately to approve the Senate's Violence Against Women Act reauthorization 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The Violence Against Women Act was originally enacted in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice--in 2000 and 2005--with unanimous Senate approval.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 similar bill to reauthorize VAWA 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 $40 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 more than 200,000 occasions.