U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today applauded Senate passage of bipartisan legislation she helped introduce that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) - the landmark law aimed at preventing domestic and sexual violence and helping victims. The law encourages collaboration among law enforcement, judicial personnel, and public and private service providers. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 78-22.
During debate on the bill, Senator Ayotte and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) filed an amendment (S.A. 18) aimed at improving care for sexual assault victims in the military. The measure would have required the Defense Department to address deficiencies outlined in a recent Government Accountability Office report that identified problems in ensuring proper care for servicewomen who are victims of sexual assault. While the amendment did not come up for a vote on the Senate floor, Ayotte pledged to continue her work on this issue as a member of the Armed Services Committee.
"The Senate's action today will help ensure that victim advocates and law enforcement have the right training and tools to prevent domestic violence and help victims, and the House needs to move quickly to pass this legislation," said Senator Ayotte, who served as New Hampshire's Attorney General from 2004 to 2009. "I will also continue my efforts to ensure that the Defense Department takes the necessary steps to improve care for servicewomen who are victims of sexual assault."
First enacted in 1994, VAWA was renewed with bipartisan support in 2000 and 2005. With a focus on working closely with local government programs, the law helps support enforcement efforts as well as educational and social programs to prevent violence.
During her time as New Hampshire's Attorney General, Ayotte chaired the Governor's Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence.