Mark Udall welcomed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the U.S. House of Representatives today, but said he was disappointed by the House's unnecessary delay in reauthorizing the law, which expired in 2011. The legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate earlier this month with bipartisan support, renews support for programs that assist survivors to overcome domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The Senate also passed a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill in 2012, but the bill died at the end of the year because the House failed to pass it.
"In Colorado and across the nation, an unacceptable number of women and other at-risk groups face the threat of violence in their homes, relationships and communities - places where they should feel safest. This is unacceptable," Udall said. "I am disappointed the House left survivors and victims of violence out in the cold while members of Congress quibbled last year and this year over who truly deserves protection, unnecessarily delaying the reauthorization of this bill. Violence against women is not a partisan issue. I am glad the House finally decided to put aside such political games and to support this common-sense and bipartisan law."
The passage of the bill came shortly after the 20th anniversary of Coloradan and former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder's introducing the original Violence Against Women Act on Feb. 24, 1993. Udall was joined by more than 4,500 Coloradans and Americans in encouraging Congress to quickly reauthorize this important bill.
The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act provides resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to nonprofit organizations supplying critical services to victims and survivors - services that will help save lives of Coloradans. The bill modifies the existing VAWA to include some of the following important updates:
Strengthens tribes' capabilities to respond to violence against Native American women;
Increases accountability measures for grant programs, in response to a series of Justice Department inspector general audits that found problems with accounting;
Increases access to support services for LGBT victims of domestic violence;
Ensures law enforcement personnel receive the funding and support to ensure rape kits are promptly tested and to reduce the countrywide backlog; and
Increases safety on college campuses by improving reporting and prevention programs, a measure put forth by Colorado's Sen. Michael Bennet.