Senate Finally Signals Action On The Violence Against Women Act

·2 min read
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing on the need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. (Photo: Alexander Drago via Reuters)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing on the need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. (Photo: Alexander Drago via Reuters)

The Senate is finally showing signs that it’s ready to move forward with renewing the Violence Against Women Act, something it has failed to do since the law’s authorization lapsed in 2019.

HuffPost has learned that the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the subject next Tuesday titled “Renewing and Strengthening the Violence Against Women Act.”

The hearing’s lone witness will be Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

The 1994 law is one of President Joe Biden’s signature accomplishments. VAWA was the first major federal legislative package focused on stopping violence against women, and it has since provided billions of dollars in grants for life-saving programs aimed at stemming domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Rates of domestic violence declined by more than 50% between 1993 and 2008 after VAWA became law, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Congress periodically has to reauthorize the law to update its grant programs and, perhaps more importantly, to strengthen the law based on what victims, survivors and advocates say are gaps in services to vulnerable populations.

But Senate Republicans let VAWA’s authorization expire in 2019 because they opposed a House-passed bipartisan bill and couldn’t agree among themselves on what to put into a bill of their own.

VAWA’s authorization has been lapsed ever since. It doesn’t mean the law itself expired; it means there is uncertainty for its grant programs and no ability to update the law with new protections that domestic violence advocates say are badly needed.

The House already passed its latest bipartisan VAWA bill in March, and it’s a lot like the bill it passed in 2019. So it’s on the Senate, again, to figure out a way forward.

There’s still no Senate bill. But Senate and White House aides who have been working on VAWA legislation for months told HuffPost last week that they’re feeling optimistic about unveiling a bill that has support from Democrats and Republicans ― and soon.

“We are engaged in productive, bipartisan conversations and hope to introduce a bipartisan bill in the coming weeks,” said one Democratic aide.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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