As we mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, we continue to await long-delayed Senate action on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019. Although the House passed a strong version of the reauthorization (H.R. 1585) months ago, the Senate has refused to take up bill for consideration and a vote. We cannot afford to wait any longer to address violence against women.
Since 1994 when it was first passed by Congress, the reauthorization of VAWA has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. With every reauthorization, the act has been strengthened and improved. The House passed reauthorization of 2019 continues to make VAWA more effective and includes three key improvements that will help save lives; namely it:
Closes the loopholes to better protect survivors from violent offenders with dangerous weapons.
Increases funding levels for violence prevention programming around the country, a need that has risen dramatically in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Strengthens the authority of tribal courts to prosecute violence perpetrated by non-Native abusers on tribal land. A National Institute of Justice study found a staggering 80 percent of Native American women will be a victim of gender-based violence.
Our faith teaches us that each person bears the image of God. Sexual or physical violence defies this belief and represents a grave injustice. It tears the fabric of communities and our society. No one should have to live in fear of violence, especially in their own home.
Preventing and addressing violence against women builds stronger families and stronger communities. VAWA has a proven track record of effectiveness over the years. It is long past time for the Senate to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 2019.