Thank you contacting me about the Violence Against Women Act (H.R.4970). I appreciate you taking the time to share your views.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally passed in 1994. Since then VAWA has greatly succeeded in changing attitudes toward and fostering awareness of domestic violence, improving services and provisions for victims, and revising the manner in which the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence. The program has been reauthorized twice since its original passage, and both times I have joined the very strong bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats voting in support of the program.
The VAWA program has always been about protecting all women, irrespective of race or creed, from violence. Rep. Sandy Adams, who introduced the House's most recent version, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012, was herself a victim of abuse who fought her way through the system and used this experience to help develop this legislation.
Like each previous VAWA reauthorization, this bill would build upon what we've learned over the years and expand its scope. First, it would ensure the current program continues to protect victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. Additionally, the House bill would double funding to help with the current backlog of processing rape kits, increase access of emergency and transitional housing for victims, create tribal liaisons within the U.S. Attorney's to address current inadequacies in protecting Indian victims within the U.S. Court system, and allow Indian victims of violence to seek protection orders against Indian or non-Indian abusers.
On May 16, I voted for this legislation, and we have asked the Senate to join us in a formal conference committee in order to work through the differences between the House and Senate versions. I will continue to urge my colleagues to move forward with this process, so we can pass a final version and ensure the program continues to protect all women from violence and abuse.
Thank you again for writing me about this issue. It's an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.
Member of Congress