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The National Network to End Domestic Violence Commends the U.S. Senate Introduction of a Bipartisan Bill Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act

February 9, 2022

Calls on the Senate to Strengthen the Housing Provisions and Swiftly Pass the Bill

A statement from Deborah J. Vagins, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV):

Today, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Violence Against Women (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 3623). NNEDV applauds the bill’s lead sponsors for their leadership and commitment to ensuring domestic and sexual violence survivors have access to lifesaving protections and services. The House passed a VAWA reauthorization bill (H.R. 1620) with bipartisan support in March 2021. NNEDV commends the Senate for introducing a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill, calls on Senators to strengthen provisions advancing access to housing, and urges swift passage of a strong bill.

Gender-based violence is all too common. VAWA creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. This law provides survivors, thousands of local programs that serve them, and communities with much-needed resources to address the impacts of violence and help people build better, safer futures.  

For the past 20 years, every VAWA reauthorization bill has improved upon the protections in the prior version of the law, in response to survivors’ emerging needs and our deeper understanding of the systems changes necessary to promote survivor safety, security, justice, and healing. The last VAWA reauthorization was in 2013, nearly a decade ago. Survivors’ needs continue to evolve, and those needs have only grown more urgent as the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a dramatic increase in the incidents of domestic violence.

I was honored to join a bipartisan group of Senators, Angelina Jolie, and advocates for the Senate introduction of the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022.

NNEDV is pleased that the bipartisan Senate bill strengthens and modernizes VAWA to address longstanding, emergent, and urgent needs of survivors, programs, and communities. Although the Senate bill is survivor-centered and groundbreaking in many ways, its scope is more narrow than the House bill, and it does not include some key additional housing and gun safety provisions. Now the Senate must pass a robust bill and send it back to the House for passage and on to the President for his signature.

The Senate bill makes critical improvements to VAWA, including:

  • Increasing investments in legal assistance for victims;
  • Providing resources to Communities of Color;
  • Providing tools to ensure adjudicated abusers who are prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish those firearms and do not obtain new ones;
  • Restoring tribal jurisdiction so tribes can hold non-Native perpetrators accountable for sexual assault and other harms;
  • Creating additional pathways to justice and healing outside of and beyond the criminal legal responses;
  • Increasing resources for prevention;
  • Maintaining vital non-discrimination protections and advancing access for all survivors; and
  • Improving the implementation of existing housing protections and increasing access to emergency and short-term housing.

One of NNEDV’s major priorities in VAWA reauthorization is advancing access to safe, permanent housing. For survivors, housing is safety and they need options to maintain or secure safe housing when facing and escaping abuse. The Senate bill enhances implementation and enforcement of current VAWA housing protections and increases access to emergency and transitional housing. However, NNEDV urges Senators to continue to enhance the bill through the legislative process to ensure the final bill advances survivors’ access to safe, permanent housing.

With humanitarian and advocate Angelina Jolie at the Senate VAWA introduction.

NNEDV calls on the Senate to maintain and strengthen the housing protections and other lifesaving policy changes in the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022 (S. 3623) and enhance resources in the final bill. We then hope to see swift passage of a strong VAWA reauthorization. Survivors can no longer wait.