STATEMENT: It’s Past Time for the U.S. Senate to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act
Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired in February of this year. The bill includes important updates, including protections for Native American and transgender women as well as stricter rules to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Shilpa Phadke, vice president of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, released the below statement following the bill’s passage in the House:
Gender-based violence is an epidemic in this country, and today’s passage in the House of an expanded and improved VAWA marks a critical step forward in our fight to defeat it. Native and transgender women suffer some of the highest rates of violence and sexual assault in this country, so as we work to update protections under VAWA, it’s essential that data and their experiences inform the lawmaking process.
Domestic violence has fallen by 64 percent since VAWA was first passed in 1994. Building on this progress is critical and will save more lives. Unfortunately, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his colleagues are resisting these efforts and would instead prefer to choose which survivors are deserving of support and protection. That’s just wrong. We should be shaping laws to reflect reality on the ground—not capitulating to the demands of special interests such as the National Rifle Association or pushing an extreme, ideological agenda at the expense of listening to survivors. That is why it is critical to follow the House’s lead to protect women’s lives by providing legal protections and support services that respond to the needs of all survivors.
In the coming weeks, resources for domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and prevention programs are under threat of exhaustion due to the Senate’s stonewalling. It’s past time for the Senate to do its job.
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