In early April, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, with strong bipartisan support. The sponsors, Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA-37) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) worked closely with the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) to develop a reauthorization bill that goes the next step to address the needs of survivors and communities (more information, including bill text and cosponsors, is available here). However, the Senate has yet to act.
With each iteration of VAWA, Congress responds to emerging issues brought forward by advocates on the ground. Based on extensive conversations with local programs and advocates, the NTF suggested several key enhancements to leaders of both parties in both the House and Senate, and H.R.1585 includes all of these. From an increased investment in sexual violence prevention programs to provisions to hold offenders accountable on tribal lands to efforts to make our criminal justice system more responsive to survivors to updated definitions to protections for incarcerated survivors, this legislation includes the realistic enhancements survivors need and advocates have asked for.
The Senate has not voted on H.R.1585. They are working on their own bill, and it is important that the Senate bill be substantially similar to H.R.1585. We will continue to work with the Senate to introduce the best bill we can, but we need your support. As direct service providers, VAWA beneficiaries, and constituents, your voice matters to your Members of Congress! Please click here to sign your organization onto the NTF letter of support for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 or a substantially similar bill by October 31.
What does the bill do?
- Increases authorization for the Rape Prevention & Education Program from $50 million to $150 million to address skyrocketing need and demand for community prevention programs.
- Returns sovereignty to tribes to prosecute non-native offenders of sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, and child abuse.
- Strengthens public housing protections for survivors including those seeking housing transfers based on safety concerns.
- Adds a new purpose to the Improving Criminal Justice Response grant program to implement alternative justice responses that are focused on victim autonomy, agency and safety to provide resolution and restitution for the victim.
- Acknowledges the trauma of incarceration on women and their family members, especially their children, and improves health care services and trauma informed responses to better prepare incarcerated women to return to their communities.
- Improves enforcement of current federal domestic violence-related firearms laws and closes loopholes to reduce firearm-involved abuse and intimate partner homicide.
- Expands VAWA’s ability to respond to sexual harassment.
We are so grateful for the work you do every day to support survivors and make your communities safer. Together, we can make sure VAWA reflects the best we have to offer too ALL survivors and prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – make sure Congress is aware of the importance of VAWA in their communities!