House Passes Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

The House of Representatives passed on March 17 a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by a vote of 244-172. Last reauthorized in 2013, VAWA provides critical protections and resources for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. While the protections in VAWA do not expire and Congress typically chooses to continue funding VAWA programs regardless of authorization, reauthorization provides advocates the opportunity to update VAWA’s provisions and expand the law’s protections.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to face challenges to final passage. Provisions in the House-passed bill, which mirror those in the reauthorization bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in the 116th Congress, have drawn criticism from Republicans for enhancing protections for LGBTQ survivors seeking emergency shelter, expanding tribal sovereignty in the prosecution of domestic and sexual violence cases, and extending a ban on the purchase of firearms to dating partners convicted of abuse or subject to a restraining order. In the previous Congress, NLIHC’s President and CEO Diane Yentel wrote a letter supporting Senator Feinstein’s VAWA reauthorization, highlighting the bill’s enhanced housing protections for survivors of violence. 

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