Biden marks anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, knocks Trump and McConnell

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday slammed President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for standing in the way of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Biden and Democratic lawmakers on Sunday marked the 26th anniversary of the law’s passage by hailing the measure and calling on Republican leadership to pass a reauthorization. Biden called the VAWA one of the legislative accomplishments he is “most proud” of.

“Each time VAWA has been reauthorized, with the support of strong leadership and the tireless work of advocates, Congress came together with bipartisan majorities to strengthen and expand protections. But President Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have decided to block the most recent VAWA reauthorization, because it would close the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole’ and prevent abusive dating partners from buying a gun,” Biden said in a statement. 

Closing the “boyfriend loophole” would have expanded the current ban on firearm purchases for spouses or formerly married partners convicted of abuse or under a restraining order to include dating partners who were never legally married.

The Democratic-controlled House passed the VAWA Reauthorization Act last year, but it was blocked in the GOP-controlled Senate. The original legislation lapsed in February 2019 when it was left out of a funding bill that ended the partial government shutdown. An attempt in the Senate at a bipartisan bill fell apart last year. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday also praised Biden for championing the bill that was passed 26 years ago when he was in the Senate, and called on McConnell to take it up and pass the VAWA Reauthorization Act. 

“This bill empowers law enforcement with new investments in prevention and improves vital services for victims and survivors. Our legislation also closes dangerous loopholes that allow perpetrators of abuse and stalking to obtain firearms while also strengthening protections for Native American women. Yet, Leader McConnell has sat on this essential reauthorization for almost a year and a half, refusing to carry on the long tradition of bipartisan support for VAWA,” Pelosi said in a statement Sunday. 

“On this anniversary, House Democrats will continue to join leaders, survivors and advocates across the country to demand the Senate take up and pass the VAWA Reauthorization Act and provide the resources needed to protect women and families throughout the coronavirus crisis,” she added. “Today and every day, we remain committed to ensuring that every woman, everywhere has the right to live free from abuse.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), once one of Biden’s presidential primary opponents, also praised Biden on the anniversary of the passage of VAWA and slammed Republicans for their “unwillingness to take this issue seriously” in an op-ed published online Sunday by Glamour magazine

“The reason for their opposition? Because closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ meant defying the gun lobby. Despite all the progress we’ve made over the past decade, Republicans would rather stand with the NRA than stand up for women,” Klobuchar wrote. 

Biden, in his statement, also called out Trump and GOP leadership in Congress for refusing to pass even the most “basic common sense gun safety measures,” including reinstating the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans. 

“Today, the victories we won 26 years ago remain unfinished. Congress must once more demonstrate the courage and leadership necessary to again stand against violence, intimidation, and the abuse of power in all its forms,” Biden said. 

The Democrat pledged that he would “immediately push for Congress” to pass the VAWA reauthorization legislation and send it to his desk if elected. He also said he will “take the fight directly to the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers to get assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets again.”

A Trump campaign spokesperson referred The Hill to the White House for comment. Spokespeople for McConnell and the White House were not immediately available for comment.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Domestic violence Donald Trump Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Violence Against Women Act

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