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Crapo, Leahy Propose Bill to Reauthorize Landmark Violence Against Women Act

Washington, D.C. - Nearly 20 years after the Violence Against Women Act was first signed into law, U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) introduced legislation today to further strengthen and improve the programs authorized under the landmark law to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. 

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first enacted in 1994, and has been the centerpiece of the federal government's efforts to stamp out domestic and sexual violence.  Critical programs authorized under VAWA include support for victim services, transitional housing and legal assistance. 

"These dollars go directly to woman and children who have been victimized by domestic violence," Crapo said.  "The reauthorization of VAWA provides critical services to these victims of violent crime, as well as agencies and organizations who provide important aid to those individuals.  I have been a strong supporter of prevention and elimination of domestic abuse since coming to Congress, and I intend to continue to fight to keep these funds intact for women and children."  

"The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act reflects Congress's ongoing commitment to end domestic and sexual violence," said Leahy.  "It seeks to expand the law's focus on sexual assault and to ensure access to services for all victims of domestic and sexual violence.  VAWA has been successful because it has consistently had strong bipartisan support for nearly two decades. I am honored to work now with Senator Crapo to build on that foundation.  I hope that Senators from both parties will support this bill, which will provide safety and security for victims across America." 

"We are extraordinarily proud of U.S. Senator Mike Crapo and his national leadership as a co-sponsor on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act," said Kelly Miller, Executive Director, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence.  "The Violence Against Women Act is critical to the prevention and response to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault in our state."

"Idaho's domestic and sexual violence programs, law enforcement, prosecution, courts, health care systems, and more have made significant progress in preventing adolescent dating violence and improving safety for victims and increasing offender accountability in domestic and sexual violence.  We thank Senator Crapo for his vision in promoting respectful relationships and safe, thriving communities," she concluded. 

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act includes several updates and improvements to the law, including: 

  • An emphasis on the need to effectively respond to sexual assault crime by adding new purpose areas and a 25 percent set-aside in the STOP state formula grant program and the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program;
  • Improvements in tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel on identifying and managing high risk offenders and connecting high risk victims to crisis intervention services;
  • Improvements in responses to the high rate of violence against women in tribal communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country;
  • Measures to strengthen housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs;
  • Measures to promote accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes;
  • Consolidation of programs and reductions in authorizations levels to address fiscal concerns, and renewed focus on programs that have been most successful;
  • Technical corrections to updates definitions throughout the law to provide uniformity and continuity throughout the law.

The Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005, each time with bipartisan support.  The law expired in September. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act will provide a five year authorization for VAWA programs, and reduce authorized funding levels by more than $144 million, or 19 percent, from the law's 2005 authorization. 

The Leahy-Crapo legislation also includes important all-state minimum funding formulas for key grant programs, to ensure that small, rural states like Vermont and Idaho have access to the victim services grants authorized under VAWA, including STOP grants, grants under the Sexual Assault Services Program, the Rural Program, Rape Prevention Education grants and transitional housing grants.