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House slated to vote on Violence Against Women Act next week

House slated to vote on Violence Against Women Act next week
© Greg Nash

A group of bipartisan lawmakers reintroduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on Monday evening, which is slated to come to the floor next week. 

Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeHouse panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations Race debate grips Congress Congressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years MORE (D-Texas), House Judiciary Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Pelosi says she won't bring bill to expand Supreme Court to the floor MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations Fitzpatrick replaces Tom Reed as House Problem Solvers co-chair The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Biden delivers 100 million shots in 58 days, doses to neighbors MORE (R-Pa.) are leading the efforts on the legislation, which looks to provide funding and grants for a variety of programs that tackle domestic abuse. 

VAWA’s authorization lapsed in 2018. The House passed legislation to reauthorize the measure in 2019 with the support of a handful of GOP lawmakers, but the legislation was blocked in the formerly Republican-controlled Senate. 

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Proponents argue it’s a necessary step in protecting abuse victims, highlighting language that would allocate funding for victim services, the health care system’s response to domestic abuse and provisions aimed at improving access to housing for survivors, aiding communities of color and preventing firearm homicide.  

“After its initial enactment a quarter-century ago, VAWA — through policy reforms, interstate cooperation and grant allocation — has been pivotal in providing a national response to protecting half of the population,” Jackson Lee, who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said in a statement.   

“Equally important, it has ushered in a seismic transformation on how society perceives violence against women.  The law has enhanced and improved the lives of girls and women, boys and men.  It has unquestionably improved the national response to these terrible crimes,” Jackson Lee said.

Fitzpatrick said he feels the measure should garner broad bipartisan support. 

“Congress must continue to aggressively combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by passing our bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021,” he said. 

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“VAWA has been instrumental in improving and enhancing our nation's response to safeguarding women and children from abuse, anguish, and violence. Congress has historically reauthorized VAWA with broad, bipartisan agreement, and I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to ensure that VAWA continues to protect victims and survivors across the nation.” 

The bill is likely to face pushback from GOP lawmakers, who argued in 2019 that the version of the bill would restrict gun rights by preventing people convicted of stalking or abusing dating partners from buying a gun.

Under current law firearm purchases for spouses or formerly married partners convicted of abuse or under a restraining order are barred, but the bill included language to expand that restriction to include dating partners who were never legally married, eliminating the “boyfriend loophole.”

A group of bipartisan lawmakers also recently introduced a bill to extend the fund for victims of crime which is expected to be brought up in the lower chamber.