Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted to support legislation he cosponsored that would reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). First passed 19 years ago, this landmark legislation focused the resources, time, and energy of federal, state, and local law enforcement on the task of preventing and stopping domestic abuse, while providing victims of violence with critical services and assistance.
"The Violence Against Women Act represents a firm promise: no woman should ever feel unsafe or insecure in her own home and no woman should ever suffer in silence in the face of domestic violence," said Congressman Cohen, a cosponsor of the legislation that was approved. "VAWA has taken domestic abuse out of the shadows and has protected millions of women and saved lives. I was happy to cosponsor and support this legislation."
Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan reauthorization of VAWA, with key provisions strengthening the law, by a vote of 68 to 31. However, Republican leadership in the House refused to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor, and VAWA failed to secure reauthorization in the last Congress.
Today, House Republican Leadership brought a VAWA bill to the House floor that lacks protections for LGBT Americans, immigrants, and Native Americans. Once that measure failed on the House floor, a vote was taken on the stronger Senate VAWA bill that already passed the Senate by a vote of 78-22. The measure had the support of key Republican women in the Senate and more than 150 House cosponsors.
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. VAWA has successfully encouraged communities and law enforcement agencies to coordinate their responses to violence against women and provide effective, long-term support for victims.