Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) was joined by a bipartisan group of colleagues in the House this morning in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Included in this reauthorization were provisions of the SAFER Act, legislation Fitzpatrick cosponsored earlier this week.
"As the father of three daughters, I am committed to ensuring that we provide what safeguards and protections we can to prevent violence against women," said Fitzpatrick. " We are long overdue in passing a reauthorization of this landmark piece of legislation which seeks to reduce instances of domestic violence and protect women who are victims of such violence. Over the course of the past several years, I have met with constituents across Bucks and Montgomery counties who agree that VAWA programs are an important part of a larger criminal justice framework that seeks to reduce abuse against women and children."
Barbara Clark, Executive Director of the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA), expressed her support for the reauthorization, saying "we are thrilled with the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act today and are glad that the House and Senate were able to work together to resolve differences so that expanded protections for underserved communities who are victims of violence could be included. We truly appreciate Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick's careful consideration of all of the issues in this complex bill and his resolve and collaboration with his colleagues to get the House leadership to take up the bill. His support helped to ensure its passage. VAWA funding will help NOVA Network of Victim Assistance and AWP-A Woman's Place continue to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence here in Bucks County.
The Violence Against Women Act was first signed into law in 1994 and subsequently reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. The legislation has proven to serve as a vital resource for communities and organizations that provide assistance and important services to the victims of sexual abuse and violence.
Through grants provided under VAWA, community organizations have the ability to administer a wide range of programs, including transitional housing grants and civil legal assistance for victims.
As with many legislative items, the Violence Against Women Act is subject to periodic reauthorization by an act of Congress.
Today's reauthorization also included language found in the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act, for which Congressman Fitzpatrick has advocated. This legislation will provide local law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to more quickly process the existing backlog of sexual assault forensic evidence kits across the country.