Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act
March 15, 2021
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Since its enactment, VAWA programs, administered by the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS), have dramatically improved federal, tribal, state, and local responses to these crimes.
The U.S. House of Representatives will be voting this week on H.R. 1620, the bipartisan bill to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). NNEDV supports H.R. 1620 and urges all Representatives to vote YES on VAWA. Read our letter here.
On March 8th, 2021, a bipartisan bill to renew and improve VAWA was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Hon. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), and Hon. Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). The bill builds upon H.R.1585 which passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in 2019.
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 reflects the input and many of the priorities of the domestic and sexual assault movement. The bill takes a holistic approach, addressing the complex realities of survivors’ lives. It maintains established protections, while also addressing persistent gaps. In particular, NNEDV supports:
- funding, including a new $40 million authorization for the Culturally Specific Services Program;
- avenues to justice that focus on victim autonomy, agency, and safety, including restorative justice practices, investments in responses beyond a criminal system approach, and expanded access to VAWA-funded legal services for survivors;
- housing protections that allow survivors in federally-assisted housing to relocate to new, safe housing with victim relocation vouchers; maintain housing after a perpetrator leaves; or terminate a lease early;
- restoration of tribal jurisdiction that allows tribes to hold non-native perpetrators of sexual assault, stalking, child abuse, elder abuse, assault against law enforcement officers, and trafficking accountable when they commit crimes on native lands;
- investment in prevention via the Rape Prevention and Education Program and VAWA Department of Justice prevention programs;
- closure of dangerous legal loopholes in existing federal domestic violence-related firearms laws that will help reduce domestic violence and dating violence homicides;
- economic justice responses that help survivors access unemployment insurance and help to clarify what constitutes economic abuse; and
- VAWA non-discrimination requirements guarantee equal access to VAWA protections for all survivors regardless of gender.
The bill, however, does not include vital provisions for immigrant survivors. Immigrant survivors continue to face abuse and must be able to access VAWA protections and obtain desperately needed U Visas. The final bill must address these concerns.
NNEDV, our membership, and national partners will be working closely with the House and Senate to secure the best bill possible, particularly considering the needs of historically marginalized survivors.
No Senate companion has been introduced yet.