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house Bill H.R. 1620

Should Anti-Domestic Violence Grants Under the Violence Against Women Act Be Reauthorized?

Argument in favor

This reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would expand and improve the national response to the crisis of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This bill’s reforms will prevent violence against women and is especially important now, as the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated stresses have led to an increase in domestic violence.

jimK's Opinion
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03/17/2021
Just do it. Sooo tired of everything being made into a political grandstanding issue. Just do it! This act has demonstrably helped women who are being put at risk by partners who are prone to use physical violence and emotional abuse. JUST DO IT!
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Jeffrey 's Opinion
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03/17/2021
Until men stop stalking, beating, abusing and killing women we need every legal protection and remedy imaginable. I fully support VAWA especially in light of the horrific Atlanta mass murders of Tuesday, March 16, which underscore the dire need to take constructive action.
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davidf's Opinion
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03/17/2021
This is a must-pass bill. The argument that issues of gun prohibition to abusers and lack of “due process” is smoke and mirrors. Put guns in the hands of abusers and women die. I believe that to vote against the VAWA is itself an abusive act toward women. (Are you listening Congressman Jim Hagedorn?)
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Argument opposed

The Violence Against Women Act’s programs are too important for Congress to let VAWA become a partisan issue, but unfortunately House Democrats have done just that by including many ideological provisions, especially on guns and transgender identification. A clean reauthorization of VAWA without these ideological provisions would be better suited to meeting domestic violence and sexual assault survivors’ needs.

Reality-Check's Opinion
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03/17/2021
If there are no definitive lines between men and women, why? Personally, I do know the difference between men and women and am REALLY glad there is. Democrats, on the other hand, don't see it that way. If any Democrat vote for this bill they're being disingenuous and totally hypocritical!
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Charles's Opinion
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03/16/2021
I’m calling on my congressional representative, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, to revise this bill. I absolutely support many of the protections and funding that this bill provides, but cannot support such a worthy cause being used as a vehicle to further erode second amendment rights, which provides a means for women to protect themselves from violence. We need to prevent women from becoming victims, not just provide support after they’ve been attacked. Please limit this bill to provisions that will empower women, allow them agency to protect themselves, and aid them when the worst occurs and remove any provisions that will keep them vulnerable, victimized, and dependent on either their abuser or the fickle funding of government programs.
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NoHedges's Opinion
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03/18/2021
Not with the current modified version. I myself am a survivor of severe domestic violence and until the justice system and law enforcement has been overhauled, I believe the gun rights should be a separate issue and determined case by case. I have watch helplessly too many times as victims of domestic violence, lacking adequate representation and mental health services, become the accused; or are manipulated into taking the legal fall for their abuser. It is a huge problem in this country that later ends up barring the same empathic members of our society from working in professions where they could be an asset. Likewise, this modified version could end up barring those same victims from owning a firearm that might one day save their life. ——————- Note: Regardless of the way this bill goes, the current stance of the Republican is not one I will be choosing come election day. Their sociopathic policies and lack of accountability is simply to big of a risk to myself, my family, and my fellow Americans.
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What is House Bill H.R. 1620?

This bill would reauthorize through fiscal year 2024 the Violence Against Women Act’s (VAWA) grant programs, which aim to protect women from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The VAWA’s most recent authorization lapsed in December 2018. A breakdown of what this bill reauthorizes and reforms can be found below.

Some of the VAWA’s noteworthy grant programs include:

  • Training programs for law enforcement officers to improve their understanding of sexual assault as a crime, their ability to interview victims, and the quality of police investigations.
  • Training programs for district attorneys to help improve their ability to prosecute rape.
  • Training for judges to improve the environment for victims when cases go to trial.
  • Programs encouraging the reporting of sexual assault to police.
  • Funding for victim services and prevention programs at local sexual assault service providers.
  • Funding for sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses.
  • Funding for victim services in underserved areas.
  • Efforts to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases in accordance with the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act.

Among the reforms to VAWA programs that this bill would make include:

  • Updating the federal definition of domestic violence (or the purposes of VAWA grants only, without impact to the criminal definition of domestic violence) to acknowledge that full range of abuse that victims suffer. 
  • Enhancing and expanding victim services.
  • Reauthorizing grant programs to improve the criminal justice response to gender-based violence and expanding allowable uses of these funds.
  • Improving access to housing for victims and survivors of violence against women.
  • Expanding tribal authorities’ jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes in Indian country and giving tribal authorities $3 million per year in funding and access to federal criminal information databases to find perpetrators.
  • Establishing a requirement that relevant law enforcement agencies be notified when a prohibited purchaser previously convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or stalking obtains or attempts to obtain a firearm.
  • Making it illegal for individuals subject to a temporary protective order to own a firearm (current law only bars gun ownership for permanent protective orders).
  • Requiring states to discourage the use of bench warrants as a means of compelling victim-witness testimony during the investigation, prosecution, trial, or sentencing of a VAWA-related crime or lose VAWA grant funding.
  • Requiring the Bureau of Prisons to develop rules under which a transgender prisoner’s sex is determined according to the sex with which they identify, and to give serious consideration to a transgender or intersex prisoner’s views about their safety given an assignment to a facility with male or female prisoners.
  • Improving the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Impact

Women; sexual assault survivors; sexual assault prevention programs; sexual assault survivor programs; sexual assault victim services; DNA backlogs; law enforcement officers; district attorneys; judges; colleges; LGBTQ community; DOJ; HHS; and VAWA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1620

$4.10 Billion
In the previous session of Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that this bill would cost over $4.1 billion over the five-year period from 2019-2014.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) reintroduced this legislation from the 116th Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):

“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.  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.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) adds:

“I am proud to reintroduce the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 (VAWA) in support of women and all survivors who have been subjected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The last year has demonstrated the immense needs to reauthorize and improve VAWA. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in domestic violence and other crimes. As demand for services has increased, service providers have seen funding drop while caseloads skyrocket. It is imperative that Congress act now to increase funding for victims services, expand training and education for providers, and strengthen and improve VAWA programs to respond to this crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill as quickly as possible and ensuring that every survivor – women, men, and children – has the resources they need to lead safe and healthy lives free from violence and fear.”

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF) supports this legislation: 

“H.R.1620 responds to the very real, identified needs of survivors and communities across the country, preventing future violence, enhancing and expanding services for survivors, investing in culturally-specific organizations, and improving access to justice for survivors. Now is not the time to maintain the status quo, nor is it acceptable to turn back the clock and reduce access to safety and justice for victims and survivors. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 is a targeted bill with a broad impact.”

President Joe Biden, who helped shepherd the original VAWA through the Senate in 1994 and campaigned on reauthorizing VAWA in the first 100 days of his presidency, stated his support for this legislation in a March 8, 2021 press release:

“I applaud the House of Representatives for introducing today the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), and I urge Congress to come together in a bipartisan manner to ensure swift passage of VAWA legislation in both the House and the Senate. Strengthening and renewing VAWA is long past due.  Delay is not an option, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States. Domestic violence is being called a pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic, with growing evidence showing that the conditions of the pandemic have resulted in escalated rates of intimate partner violence, and in some cases more severe injuries.”

House Republicans opposed this bill in the Judiciary Committee in the previous Congress, writing in the committee report:

“Though we agree the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) should be reauthorized, we are disheartened by [this bill]… We share the majority’s belief that VAWA should serve the purpose of preventing violence and serving victims, but we believe [this bill] is counterproductive to achieving those goals… Rather than continu[ing] to wield VAWA as a political weapon, we encourage Democrats to work with us on an alternative that preserves and strengthens the program while maintaining its intent.”

A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association (NRA) told the HuffPost that it would oppose this VAWA reauthorization because of what it calls a lack of due process related to this bill’s prohibition of gun ownership for people convicted of stalking or abusing dating partners:

“The fact that Nancy Pelosi and her minions of anti-gun zealots insist on adding a gun-control poison pill to an otherwise good bill is just another example of the shameful politics Americans hate and why they have such a negative view of politicians.”

Current law prohibits firearm purchases for spouses or formerly married partners convicted of abuse or currently under a restraining order. This legislation would expand that restriction to include dating partners who were never legally married, thereby eliminating the “boyfriend loophole,” and make it illegal to sell or transfer firearms or ammunition to people who the seller or transferrer believes to have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking.

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NFT), a diverse group of national, tribal, state, territorial, and local organizations, advocates, and individuals focused on the development and implementation of effective public policy responses to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking support this legislation.

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote of 22-11 and has the support of 167 cosponsors, all but one of whom is a Democrat.


Of NoteThe Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted in 1994 under the leadership of then-Senate Judiciary Chair Joe Biden (D-DE). It was designed to improve criminal justice responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking and to increase the availability of services for victims of sex crimes. It requires a coordinated community response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking and encourages jurisdictions to coordinate their efforts to improve community responses to violence against women. Parties whose coordination is affected by VAWA include victim advocates, police officers, prosecutors, judges, probation and corrections officials, healthcare professionals, faith leaders, and survivors of violence against women.

The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), which was created to implement VAWA, says “VAWA has led to significant improvements in the criminal and civil justice systems.” According to a nationwide assessment cited by the OVW, VAWA grants fund research-proven interventions that are proven to reduce incidents of rape and assault. 

VAWA’s authorization lapsed in 2018. In 2019, the House passed legislation along party-lines to reauthorize the bill with a few GOP lawmakers’ support; however, the then-Republican-controlled Senate blocked the legislation.

Although Congress passed numerous emergency funding bills to address an array of pandemic-linked crises last year, those bills did not provide additional funding for VAWA programs at the Justice Department. Supplemental funding was included for programs authorized under the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, but not VAWA.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that a quarter of women experience severe intimate-partner physical violence and one in seven women has been stalked by an intimate partner to the point where she felt very fearful or believed that she or someone close to her would be harmed or killed.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Nevena Ristic)

AKA

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021

Official Title

To reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed March 17th, 2021
    Roll Call Vote 244 Yea / 172 Nay
      house Committees
      Oversight and Investigations
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMarch 8th, 2021

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    Just do it. Sooo tired of everything being made into a political grandstanding issue. Just do it! This act has demonstrably helped women who are being put at risk by partners who are prone to use physical violence and emotional abuse. JUST DO IT!
    Like (69)
    Follow
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    If there are no definitive lines between men and women, why? Personally, I do know the difference between men and women and am REALLY glad there is. Democrats, on the other hand, don't see it that way. If any Democrat vote for this bill they're being disingenuous and totally hypocritical!
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    Until men stop stalking, beating, abusing and killing women we need every legal protection and remedy imaginable. I fully support VAWA especially in light of the horrific Atlanta mass murders of Tuesday, March 16, which underscore the dire need to take constructive action.
    Like (36)
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    I am a DV survivor. We need protection.
    Like (29)
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    I had my own story to share & just now erased every bit of it, as I am still terrified of my abuser finding me. There are not nearly enough supports in place for survivors of domestic abuse.
    Like (22)
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    This is a must-pass bill. The argument that issues of gun prohibition to abusers and lack of “due process” is smoke and mirrors. Put guns in the hands of abusers and women die. I believe that to vote against the VAWA is itself an abusive act toward women. (Are you listening Congressman Jim Hagedorn?)
    Like (22)
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    The Violence Against Women Act should never expire. I can see that it may need to be improved over time, but when will we stop trying to make protecting women a partisan issue? Why can't everybody agree that women should be protected from all violence, no matter whether it's with a fist, a club or a gun? Why can't everybody agree that ALL women, even transgender women, should be protected from violence? Where is the humanity?
    Like (15)
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    Why the hell are all my representatives and Senators so damned foolish? Why wouldn’t you spend my tax dollars protecting my wife, daughters, daughters in law, grand daughters? Why would I vote for your insane philosophy?
    Like (14)
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    Represenatives, We strongly urge you to support H. R. 1620, the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act’s (VAWA) grant programs.
    Like (14)
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    What a POS rep. named kevin brady, again shows his concerns for women or anyone but himself or his boss by voting ‘Not Voting’ on this bill. What is SO IMPORTANT that you apparently DON’T HAVE TIME TO VOTE ‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️🖕🖕.
    Like (11)
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    The grants should never have been allowed to expire.
    Like (11)
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    I’m calling on my congressional representative, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, to revise this bill. I absolutely support many of the protections and funding that this bill provides, but cannot support such a worthy cause being used as a vehicle to further erode second amendment rights, which provides a means for women to protect themselves from violence. We need to prevent women from becoming victims, not just provide support after they’ve been attacked. Please limit this bill to provisions that will empower women, allow them agency to protect themselves, and aid them when the worst occurs and remove any provisions that will keep them vulnerable, victimized, and dependent on either their abuser or the fickle funding of government programs.
    Like (11)
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    Yes, not only women, but all violence against any group of people! Women are trafficked, assaulted, abused, harassed, marginalized, demeaned, treated as a second class citizen, treated as cattle and Yet, care and carry the ass of those who abuse them!
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    Yep!....they should have never let it "lapse" in the first place.
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    @Larubia and @NoHedges, I am so sorry to hear that you are domestic abuse survivors. I am impressed with the strength you both had to leave that situation. The abuse heaped on the “weaker sex” in all places on earth is accepted and even encouraged in so many cultures. The “rule of thumb” saying came from the guide for husbands to use a stick to beat his wife that was no wider than his thumb. That was in colonial America.
    Like (9)
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    Not with the current modified version. I myself am a survivor of severe domestic violence and until the justice system and law enforcement has been overhauled, I believe the gun rights should be a separate issue and determined case by case. I have watch helplessly too many times as victims of domestic violence, lacking adequate representation and mental health services, become the accused; or are manipulated into taking the legal fall for their abuser. It is a huge problem in this country that later ends up barring the same empathic members of our society from working in professions where they could be an asset. Likewise, this modified version could end up barring those same victims from owning a firearm that might one day save their life. ——————- Note: Regardless of the way this bill goes, the current stance of the Republican is not one I will be choosing come election day. Their sociopathic policies and lack of accountability is simply to big of a risk to myself, my family, and my fellow Americans.
    Like (9)
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    Why am I not surprised that Boebert voted against this bill? She is not working to represent anyone but herself. Shameful.
    Like (9)
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    Seriously common sense
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    I can’t believe we even have to ask this question. I watched my mother choked into unconsciousness night after night and then slapped awake as he cried and begged forgiveness. Pardon my CPTSD but fuck that shit and the trains hauling it to Washington. Who’s behind this BS move? Come and talk to me and my 5 siblings and have your snot rags ready. It’s time for the punishment to fit the crime. Period. Go ahead call me, text me. I crawled through windows to get diapers for the youngest while my pregnant (pre-pill days) waited to catch me coming out, babe in arms. Don’t do this to us!
    Like (6)
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    Andy Harris from Maryland voted AGAINST VAWA in 2019, 2020 and again in 2021. Also, he is one of the congressmen who flouted metal detectors by refusing to enter the machines or follow additional security checks on January 12. 💩💩💩🤬🤬🤬😤😤😤
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