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House Passes Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

April 4, 2019
Press Release

Kildee Supports Bipartisan Legislation to Support Victims of Domestic Violence

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today applauded the passage of a bipartisan, long-term reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bipartisan bill, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 263-158, seeks to end instances of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking by improving law enforcement response to violence and funding local programs to support victims.

VAWA, a landmark piece of legislation, was first passed by Congress in 1994 and subsequently reauthorized three times in 2000, 2005 and 2013, each time with strong bipartisan support. The law significantly transformed the nation's response to violence against women and provided significant resources to states and local communities to combat violence.

“The Violence Against Women Act is a crucial piece of legislation that has proven effective at protecting women and Americans from violence,” Congressman Kildee said. “Each Congress, I have been proud to cosponsor legislation reauthorizing VAWA because we must protect victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking. Now that the U.S. House of Representatives has acted, the Senate must take up this important legislation without further delay. I urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to act immediately to help protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Two mid-Michigan organizations receive funding from VAWA to provide support services, including the Bay Area Women’s Center in Bay City and the YWCA Flint.

“The VAWA legislation and subsequent reauthorization allow our agency to continue to provide life-saving services to victims of violence.  This legislation not only helps us shelter and protect women, children, and men who are unsafe, but identifies and puts in place other legal protections such as confidentiality of records, mandated fair housing practices, access to protection orders, and ensures the rights of victims, regardless of their immigrant status.  The VAWA legislation not only carves out a path of safety for our clients but allows us to serve victims of violence while maintaining their right to be acknowledged and served with dignity and respect.  We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for the passage of the VAWA reauthorization and urge the U.S. Senate to act in similar fashion, as there is no greater statement of our values as a nation but to ensure the rights of endangered, vulnerable victims of crime in our communities,” said Bay Area Women’s Center Executive Director Jeremy Rick.

The reauthorization of VAWA improves current law in several important areas:

  • Improves the services available for victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking;
  • Empowers law enforcement to better protect communities;
  • Expands the housing protections and financial assistance available for victims and survivors;
  • Improves protections for Native women, including by reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking;
  • Expands firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence, misdemeanor stalking, or subject to protective orders from possessing firearms; and, 
  • Invests in tools and resources for law enforcement and evidence-based prevention programs that make our communities safer.

Today’s bill is supported by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF), a large and diverse group of national, tribal, state, territorial, and local stakeholders that focus on the passage and implementation of effective public policy to address domestic violence.

The passage of VAWA today in the House is the latest action by a new Democratic majority to make Congress work for the people. In recent weeks, A Democratically-elected House acted to pass other key pieces of legislation, including:

  • H.R. 1, the For the People Act, to expand voting rights for Americans, reduce the dominance of big money in politics, and ensure that public officials work for the people, not special interests.
  • H.R. 8, Bipartisan Background Checks Act, long-overdue gun violence prevention legislation that requires background checks for gun sales and transfers to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and bad actors. 
  • H.R. 7, the Pay Check Fairness Act, which strengthens and closes loopholes in existing law, including the 1963 Equal Pay Act, to help ensure that women and men get paid the same if they are doing the same work.
  • H.J. Res 46, a privileged resolution to terminate President Trump’s national emergency declaration to illegally fund his border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.