03.17.21

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Votes to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) voted to pass H.R. 1620, Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021, a bipartisan and robust reauthorization bill.  

The landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 ushered in transformative progress by calling for the protection of all Americans from violence and abuse and providing resources and support for survivors of domestic violence.  This critical reauthorization will protect and expand these critical protections for women throughout the East Bay and across our country. 

Since 1994, the rate of domestic violence has declined by 63 percent.  However, the extent of domestic violence remains way too high as an estimated one in three women in the U.S. still experience domestic violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the problem by forcing many women to quarantine at home in unsafe situations. 

“Today the House took a stand for women in the 13th District and across the country, for tribal women and women of color, for the LGBTQ+ community, for immigrant women, for women all across the United States, by passing the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.  

“In addition to the protections this bill has provided for over two-and-a-half decades, it also increases funding for the authorization for the Rape Prevention & Education Program and specifically includes prevention of sexual harassment to its authorization. It will also increase funding for prevention education programs that engage men and boys as allies and promote healthy relationships. These education and anti-harassment programs are critical measures that will make our communities safer.  

“As someone who understands domestic violence on a deeply personal level, I know how important is to have a strong and consistent support system to emerge as a survivor. In the 1960s in California, I had nowhere to turn for support. That is why I authored the Violence Against Women’s Act for the State of California, which was signed into law by a Republican Governor. VAWA is continues to be critical for the 1.3 million individuals who benefit from this program and its reauthorization makes our country safer for all women.”  

This reauthorization fulfills Congress’s responsibility to protect all Americans by reaffirming protections for every woman, as well as including vital improvements to address gaps in current law that have been identified by victims, survivors and advocates.  This bipartisan bill: 

  • Improves the services available for victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; 
  • Expands the housing protections and financial assistance available for victims and survivors;  
  • Improves protections for Native women, including by reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; 
  • Closes loopholes in current firearm laws in order help prevent “intimate partner” homicides, by prohibiting persons convicted of misdemeanor stalking or dating violence from possessing firearms; and  
  • Invests in tools and resources for law enforcement and evidence-based prevention programs that make our communities safer. 

The bill also makes vital new investments in prevention, including:  

  • Increases the authorization for the Rape Prevention & Education Program (RPE) to $110 million a year from $50 million a year and specifically includes prevention of sexual harassment to its authorized uses. Demand for programs funded by RPE has skyrocketed with the #MeToo movement and the national focus on campus sexual assault, and a corresponding increase is critically necessary to meet the need of communities.   
  • Increases funding for VAWA Consolidated Youth Grants. These grants fund prevention education programs that engage men and boys as allies and promote healthy relationships and that are key to reducing gender-based violence. Increased funding will provide programs with the resources they need to increase the depth and reach of these critical programs.