Yesterday the House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) by a vote of 286 to 138. The bill passed the Senate on February 12th, but at the time House Leadership declined to indicate whether they would consider companion legislation despite pleas from their Republican colleagues to pass a bipartisan bill. The bill is now headed to President Obama for his signature. During his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama also acknowledged the Senate’s passage of the bill and urged the House to do the same.
VAWA authorizes $659 million over five years for programs and expands and strengthens protections for all victims of violence (including LGBT and Native American victims). The legislation amends the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act of 2008 to require the referral of comprehensive and community-based programs that provide assistance to child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, it amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to authorize appropriations for FY2014-FY2018 for child abuse and neglect technical assistance and training programs for judicial personnel and attorneys practicing in juvenile and family courts. Finally, VAWA revises the eligibility requirements for transitional housing assistance grants for child victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to specify that any victims are eligible. CWLA applauds Congress for swift action on the reauthorization which provides protections for children and families who are victims of violence.