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Crapo, Leahy Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize the Landmark Violence Against Women Act

Four Idaho deaths in 2013 already attributed to domestic violence

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) reintroduced the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Tuesday-the first day that bills can be introduced in the Senate in the new 113th Congress- and called for the Senate to take up the measure without delay.

The bill, which reauthorizes the landmark Violence Against Women Act that was enacted more than 20 years ago, strengthens and improves existing programs that assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  The measure closely mirrors the bipartisan legislation approved by the Senate last year.

"The Violence Against Women Act has helped countless victims of domestic and relationship violence for nearly twenty years," Crapo said. "The path to reauthorization in the 113th Congress begins with reintroduction, and I look forward to working with Senator Leahy and my colleagues on compromise language that can garner the necessary support in both the Senate and House to pass this critical legislation."

"This life-saving legislation should be a top priority of the new 113th Congress," Leahy said of the bill, which won the support of 68 Senators last year. "It is our hope that the Senate will act quickly to pass this strong, bipartisan bill to help all victims of domestic and sexual violence."

At a press conference held today on Capitol Hill, Senator Crapo highlighted the importance of passage for Idaho specifically.  "I am a long-time champion of preventing domestic violence because I have seen the impact of this firsthand in Idaho.  This month alone, there have been four deaths in Idaho as a result of domestic violence.  These tragic events serve as a reminder that we are far from ending abuse, though we have made great progress and will continue to make great progress." 

"All of us deserve the basic rights and fundamental freedoms of life, liberty, safety and respect," said Kelly Miller, Executive Director for the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.  "Senator Crapo has been a tremendous national leader in forwarding these basic human rights through his work on ending violence against women, and especially on his sponsorship of the Violence Against Women Act."

The Leahy-Crapo VAWA bill seeks to protect all victims including those victims who are students, racial minorities, tribal members, immigrants and members of the LGBT community.  The bill includes almost all of last year's bipartisan measure, including campus safety provisions and important all-state minimum funding formulas for key grant programs to ensure that small, rural states like Idaho have access to the victim services grants authorized under VAWA.  Added to this year's measure is the SAFER Act, a bill also approved by the Senate last year that provides for audits of untested rape kits.  The improved version now also provides law enforcement the tools they need to help reduce the backlog of rape kits throughout the country.

The Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005, each time with bipartisan support.  The law expired in September 2011.  The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act will provide a five-year authorization for VAWA programs, and reduce authorized funding levels by more than $135 million, or 17 percent, from the law's 2005 authorization.