UPDATE (03/17/21): The House has passed H.R. 1620 with a 244-172 vote. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), landmark legislation first passed with bipartisan support in 1994, had its funding expire in February of 2019 after Congress failed to include it in a compromise federal spending bill. The act established and funded the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women and provided funding for the investigation and prosecution of domestic and other interpersonal violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
Lead by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), House Democrats have introduced a reauthorization bill, H.R. 1620, that would not only reauthorize funding for VAWA’s existing programs but also establish new policies to help abuse victims remain in stable housing, expand red-flag laws to block people convicted of dating abuse or stalking from accessing guns, and broaden protections against abuse for Native American women.
Congress must act quickly to restore funding for crucial programs while also modernizing the legislation to be more inclusionary and expansive of protections.