The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of thesigned as by President Bill Clinton (D) on September 13, 1994.
The Act provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice. Its coverage extends to male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
VAWA was drafted by the office of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), with support from a broad coalition of advocacy groups. The Act passed through Congress with bipartisan support in 1994, clearing the House by a vote of 235–195 and the Senate by a vote of 61–38, although the following year House Republicans attempted to cut the Act’s funding. In the 2000 Supreme Court case United States v. Morrison, a sharply divided Court struck down the VAWA provision allowing women the right to sue their attackers in federal court. By a 5–4 majority, the Court overturned the provision as an intrusion on states’ rights.
VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in December 2005.The Act’s 2012 renewal was opposed by conservative Republicans, who objected to extending the Act’s protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered undocumented individuals to claim, also known as U- Visas, temporary visas. In April 2012, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and the House subsequently passed its own measure (omitting provisions of the Senate bill that would protect gays, Native Americans living in reservations, and undocumented individuals who are victims of domestic violence). Reconciliation of the two bills was stymied by procedural measures, leaving the reauthorization in question. The Senate’s 2012 reauthorization of VAWA was not brought up for a vote in the House.
In February 2013, the Senate passed an extension of the Violence Against Women Act by a vote of 78-22, and the House of Representatives passed it by a vote of 286-138, with unanimous Democratic support and 87 Republicans voting in the affirmative. The extension was signed by President Barack Obama.
The History of the Violence Against Women Act Timeline
- U.S. Senator Biden introduces the first Violence Against Women Act.
- U.S. Senator Joseph Biden and the majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee conclude a three‐year investigation into the causes and effects of violence against women. In his introduction to Violence Against Women ‐ The Response to Rape: Detours on the Road to Equal Justice report, Senator Biden states, “Through this process, I have become convinced that violence against women reflects as much a failure of our nation’s collective moral imagination as it does the failure of our nation’s laws and regulations. We are helpless to change the course of this violence unless, and until, we achieve a national consensus that it deserves our profound public outrage.
- The Act provided $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
- 9/13/1994 President Bill Clinton signs the Violence Against Women Act into law as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
- Requires a coordinated community response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking crimes, encouraging jurisdictions to bring together multiple players to share experience and information and to use their distinct roles to improve community‐defined responses.
- Strengthens federal penalties for repeat sex offenders and included a federal “rape shield law,” which is intended to prevent offenders from using victims’ past sexual conduct against them during a rape trial.
- Creates full faith and credit provisions requires states and territories to enforce protection orders issued by other states, tribes and territories.
- Creates legal relief for battered immigrants that made it more difficult for abusers to use immigration law to prevent victims from calling the police or seeking safety.
- Allows victims to seek civil rights remedies for gender‐related crimes.1
- 3/7/13 Pres Obama signs the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
Programs under VAWA 1994 include:
DOJ: The STOP (Services*Training*Officers* Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program, the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies Program, the Rural Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Assistance Grant Program, and the STOP Violence Against Indian Women Discretionary Program (created from a statutory set‐aside of STOP funds for Indian tribal governments).
HHS: VAWA authorizes funds to establish the National Domestic Violence Hotline and to support battered women’s shelters, rape prevention education, and coordinated community responses to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
IRS: To help victims of domestic violence and others, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service offers taxpayers an “innocent spouse” relief program which stops collection of taxes in certain situations.
House GOP blocks Violence Against Women Act
Wed Jan 2, 2013 2:13 PM EST By Steve Benen – maddowblog
Congress had a lengthy to-do list as the end of the year approached, with a series of measures that needed action before 2013 began. Some of the items passed (a fiscal agreement, a temporary farm bill), while others didn’t (relief funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy).
And then there’s the Violence Against Women Act, which was supposed to be one of the year’s easy ones. It wasn’t.
Back in April, the Senate approved VAWA reauthorization fairly easily, with a 68 to 31 vote. The bill was co-written by a liberal Democrat (Vermont’s Pat Leahy) and a conservative Republican (Idaho’s Mike Crapo), and seemed on track to be reauthorized without much of a fuss, just as it was in 2000 and 2005.
But House Republicans insisted the bill is too supportive of immigrants, the LGBT community, and Native Americans — and they’d rather let the law expire than approve a slightly expanded proposal. Vice President Biden, who helped write the original law, tried to persuade House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to keep the law alive, but the efforts didn’t go anywhere.
And so, for the first time since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act is no more. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Democratic point person on VAWA, said in a statement:
“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”
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