Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today joined the entire Senate Democratic Caucus to introduce legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which plays a critical role in addressing gender-based violence and providing services and protections for survivors. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill reauthorizing and strengthening VAWA in April, but Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow a vote on it. In response to this inaction, Senate Democrats, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), have introduced their own version of the bill.
“In the 25 years since Congress first passed the Violence Against Women Act, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to strengthen it. As a result, this law has provided billions of dollars for prevention efforts, empowered law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes, and increased the number of shelters and rape crisis centers serving survivors. It’s time for the Republican Leader to allow a vote on legislation to strengthen VAWA, close the ‘boyfriend’ loophole that allows domestic violence perpetrators to own guns, and ensure we’re doing all we can to protect women regardless of where they live. We cannot tolerate the status quo any longer.”
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 provides funding for critical programs to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; authorizes new programs; and improves existing services and resources for survivors. It also closes a loophole in the law to ensure that intimate and dating partners, regardless of marital status, who are convicted of dating violence, stalking, or are under a restraining order, cannot possess a firearm.
Additionally, this bill strengthens protections in Native American and Alaska Native communities by restoring tribal jurisdiction over crimes of sexual violence, stalking, and sex trafficking and crimes against children, elders, and law enforcement. In addition, this legislation improves access to information databases and enhances communication between law enforcement agencies.