VAWA Reauthorization Introduced in House and Senate

Legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was introduced in both the House and the Senate on January 22. Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) introduced H.R. 11 and the Senate bill, S. 47, was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Senate passed legislation to reauthorize VAWA in the 112th Congress (see Memo, 4/27/12). Instead of taking up the Senate bill, the House considered its own version of the legislation. The House bill omitted key provisions of the Senate bill related to:

  • The ability for tribal authorities to prosecute domestic violence cases that occur on tribal land.
  • Assurances that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered victims of domestic violence are covered by VAWA protections.
  • Protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence. (See Memo, 5/18/12).

The Senate refused to approve legislation without these expanded protections; thus VAWA reauthorization ultimately failed in the 112th Congress.The legislation in both the House and Senate includes improvements to housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. These provisions were not controversial in the last Congress and the new legislation in the 113th Congress again includes them. The new Senate legislation omits one controversial provision, an expansion of U visas for immigrant victims of abuse. Key housing provisions in the bill include:

  • Making it illegal to evict a victim from federally subsidized housing for reasons related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The bill expands the list of federal housing programs covered under VAWA.
  • Allowing for the bifurcation of leases for tenants of programs covered under VAWA, if they are seeking the lease bifurcation for reasons related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • Requiring HUD to establish policies and procedures for emergency transfers for victims living in HUD-assisted housing, in which depending on availability, victims would be eligible for tenant protection vouchers.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that the VAWA reauthorization will be a top agenda item early in the 113th Congress. Click here for the full text of H.R. 11. Click here for the full text of S. 47.