Mark Udall called on his colleagues in Congress to quickly reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to save lives and strengthen families throughout Colorado and to avoid a repeat of last year, when the House's failure to reauthorize VAWA left hundreds of thousands of survivors without adequate help. Udall has been a vocal supporter of reauthorizing VAWA, collecting support from Coloradans and championing it on the Senate floor shortly before it passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support. However, because the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass it before the end of 2012, VAWA programs were cut off from federal support to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
"The Violence Against Women Act has saved lives and strengthened families throughout Colorado and the United States by changing the way our society thinks about - and responds to - domestic violence. Congress shouldn't cubbyhole our constituents into the right and wrong types of victims-we ought to be fighting instead to ensure the programs they rely on have adequate support. Survivors and victims of violence deserve better," Udall said. "I am ashamed that this bill has been gridlocked by partisanship, but my colleagues in the House have another chance to do the right thing. Reauthorizing VAWA will help law enforcement officers confront perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse; provide safe and secure support services to survivors of crimes; and establish a National Domestic Violence Hotline. Let's get it done."
The Senate passed the VAWA in April 2012 with broad bipartisan support and sent it to the House where it languished before dying at the end of the 112th session of Congress.
The Senate reauthorization provides resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to nonprofit organizations that supply services for victims and survivors. The bill modifies the existing VAWA to include some of the following important updates:
Improved responses to violence against Native American women;
Increased accountability measures for grant programs, in response to a series of Justice Department inspector general audits that found problems with accounting;
Greater access to support services for LGBT victims of domestic violence; and
Ensures law enforcement personnel receive the funding and support to ensure rape kits are promptly tested and to reduce the countrywide backlog.