Congressman Richard E. Neal, a co-sponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 11), today praised the U.S. Senate for passing a bipartisan bill (S.47) to reauthorize the VAWA and urged Republicans to swiftly bring up and pass similar legislation in the House of Representatives. The VAWA significantly strengthens the ability of the Federal Government, the States, law enforcement and service providers to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It also includes provisions to ensure that all victims of domestic violence receive the protection they need - including providing new protections, based on findings from experts in the field, for tribal members, immigrants and the LGBT community.
"It's been 501 days since the House Republicans let the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expire. A bipartisan bill passed the Senate today that reauthorizes and strengthens this important law. All 20 women in the Senate voted for it. President Obama has said he will sign it into law. It is now up to the GOP to do the right thing and bring the VAWA reauthorization bill to the House floor for a vote. I believe victims of domestic violence deserve more from their elected representatives than just petty partisan politics.
Expanding protections for victims of violence has been a priority of mine for many years. In fact, I have been a proud and consistent supporter of the VAWA since 1994 when it was originally introduced. There is simply no reason why a bill that seeks to protect women should be politicized. After today's action in the Senate, I strongly urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor immediately," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
VAWA has improved the criminal justice system's ability to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. As a result of this historic legislation, every state has enacted laws making stalking a crime and strengthened criminal rape statutes. The annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped more than 50% since VAWA became law. VAWA programs have provided victims with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services. They address the unique barriers faced by rural victims, elderly victims, and those with disabilities. The VAWA has also successfully encouraged communities to coordinate their responses to violence against women by bringing together victim advocates, law enforcement, the courts, health care professionals, and leaders within faith communities.
On January 22, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and other House Democrats introduced H.R. 11, a VAWA Reauthorization identical to S. 47, and Congressman Neal is a co-sponsor of that bill. H.R.11 has more than 190 Democratic co-sponsors, including every Democratic woman in the House.