Today, Congressman John Tierney voted to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). With 87 Republicans joining a united Democratic Caucus, Tierney praised his colleagues for passing the bipartisan, Senate-approved legislation, and for defeating a GOP-led effort to weaken the bill. The bill passed the House by a vote of 286-138, extending the law's crucial protections to LGBT, Native American and immigrant victims, providing for more rape kits as well as a national registry of forensic evidence from sexual assault cases, strengthening criminal anti-trafficking statutes, providing for temporary housing for victims, and addressing domestic violence on American college campuses.
"Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is long overdue," Congressman Tierney said. "Extending these crucial protections ensures that women, regardless of their background, sexual orientation, or nation of origin, have somewhere to turn in the face of violence. There is no place for domestic abuse in our society. While it is regrettable that the majority of House Republicans opposed this bill, I am grateful that some in their Caucus joined with us today in support of efforts to protect women and families."
Last Congress, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan reauthorization of VAWA, with key provisions strengthening the law. However, House leadership refused to bring the bipartisan Senate bill to the floor; and, over 500 days ago, VAWA was allowed to expire.
VAWA has improved the criminal justice system's ability to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. Based on this legislation, every state has enacted laws to make stalking a crime and strengthened criminal rape statutes. Since VAWA became law, the annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped more than 50 percent -- and reporting of domestic violence has increased as much as 51 percent.