Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18) today voted in support of the House bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (known as VAWA), which expired in 2011.
"Women are two times more likely than men to be the victim in domestic violence homicides. This landmark law has made tremendous strides in sharply reducing the number of women whose lives have been lost to domestic violence over the past two decades," said Murphy. "This critical legislation also makes lifesaving resources available to women who are working to escape tragic, often life-threatening situations and in the prosecution of their perpetrators."
The Violence Against Women Act was signed into law in 1994 in response to the growing concern over violent crime, particularly against women, during the 1980s and early 1990s. It is a coordinated effort by law enforcement, judicial personnel, the public and private sector to meet the needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Since its creation in 1995, a total of $4.7 billion has been awarded in grants and cooperative agreements. Congressman Murphy has supported extending the VAWA program as it was originally created, and voted for its full reauthorization in 2005.
The House version brought to the floor today, which Murphy supported, reauthorizes VAWA grants for five years. The bill also increases investigation and prosecution of violent criminals, enhances penalties for assault, guarantees funding for rape prevention education, and expands housing protections to sexual assault victims.
Murphy voted against the Senate version of VAWA, which siphoned off resources from the original VAWA programs and directed tax dollars to a redefined population, despite the fact that 99% of domestic violence against women is perpetrated by a male partner (according to the Department of Justice.)
Murphy emphasized that current law already forbids discrimination by recipients of federal grant money. Moreover, no organization dedicated to helping victims of abuse in Southwestern Pennsylvania has been known to turn people away on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 47) passed the House by a vote of 286-138. The House version of the bill failed by a vote of 166-257. S.47 now goes to the President for his signature.