Closing The Gap

Nancy Pelosi unveils bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks in Austin, Texas, March 5, 2019.
Sergio Flores | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House members unveiled a bipartisan reintroduction of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday, urging Congress to support key provisions of the landmark legislation that provides protection for domestic violence survivors.

VAWA expired in February after its funding was excluded from President Donald Trump's spending bill to avoid a second government shutdown. But the legislation's omission in that spending package provided Democratic lawmakers with the opportunity to push new reforms that wouldn't pass under last year's Republican-controlled Congress.

"There should be nothing partisan, or political about ending the scourge of domestic violence or sexual assault which 1 in 3 women face today," Pelosi said at the news conference. "We hope to receive more bipartisan support as the bill moves forward."

The reauthorization would strengthen legal protection for LGBTQ, Native American and immigrant women, and make it harder for those convicted of crimes related to domestic violence to acquire firearms, Pelosi said.

"Every woman everywhere has a right to live free from abuse. We urge all members to join us in strong bipartisan support for this bill."

VAWA was first signed in 1994 and has since been reauthorized three times, in 2000, 2005 and 2013. Although the legislation has bipartisan support, Democrats and Republicans have historically disagreed over specific provisions. In 2012, conservative Republicans rejected the act's extension of protections to same-sex couples and provisions allowing undocumented immigrants experiencing abuse to claim temporary visas. The reauthorization in 2013 had the protections for same-sex couples but not the provisions for undocumented immigrants.

Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said at the news conference that reauthorization would also expand grant money and filter more resources toward training and prevention efforts.

The 2019 reauthorization is co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California. The House Judiciary is hearing testimony about reauthorization and will debate the bill in upcoming weeks.

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