Congress pushes to reauthorize VAWA

Stephon Johnson | 3/14/2019, 10:08 a.m.
Members of the House recently unveiled a plan to reintroduce the Violence Against Women Act.
U.S. Capitol Wikipedia

Members of the House recently unveiled a plan to reintroduce the Violence Against Women Act.

The plan includes provisions designed to protect survivors of domestic violence.

“There should be nothing partisan or political about ending the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) in a statement. “It is an outrage that one in three women are still experiencing domestic violence. With this bipartisan, commonsense reauthorization, Congress is upholding our sacred obligation to protect the millions of victims and survivors who need and deserve our fullest support.”

President Bill Clinton first signed VAWA into law in 1994, and it was reauthorized in 2000, 2005 and 2013. In 2012, during Barack Obama’s tenure in office, Republicans rejected extending the act’s protections to same-sex couples and adding provisions that would give temporary visas to undocumented immigrants who were victims of abuse. While VAWA was reauthorized in 2013, it only added protections for same-sex couples.

At a press event to introduce bipartisan reauthorization of the VAWA, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the bill needs to get to the floor as soon as possible because of language ensuring that women in marginalized communities are protected as well.

“The bill preserves the vital progress that was made in the 2013 reauthorization to protect the LGBTQ community, Native American community and immigrant women,” said Pelosi. “That was part of the fight. We couldn’t get the bill to the Floor because there was resistance to protect immigrant, LGBTQ and Native American women.”

VAWA expired in February, a casualty of President Donald Trump’s spending bill that stopped another government shutdown. In 2018, a version of VAWA co-sponsored by Pelosi, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Jerrold Nadler met pushback from Republicans who felt these provisions were controversial. With the Democrats in control of Congress, liberal politicians are more confident that they’ll pass the bill.

During a recent hearing on the bill, Republican Congresswoman Debbie Lasko, a domestic violence survivor, said that Democrats were to blame for not putting party affiliation aside and negotiating together.

“We need to work in a bipartisan fashion to fix it,” Lasko said. “This happens to so many women.”

Pelosi, during her news conference, remained steadfast in making sure VAWA protections were extended to as many communities as possible, including trans women.

“With this bill, we are empowering law enforcement and helping stop abusers and stalkers from obtaining firearms,” said Pelosi. “We’re supporting survivors with protections against discrimination in the workplace and unjust evictions. And we are strengthening protections, again, for Native American women because every woman everywhere has the right to live free from abuse.”