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[Correction] Violence Against Women Act Extension Included in Latest Spending Proposal

A reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act will likely lapse at the end of the week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
A reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act will likely lapse at the end of the week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Corrected 6:30 p.m. | Despite indications earlier Monday that the Violence Against Women Act would not be extended as part of the two-week continuing resolution, the stopgap funding measure would indeed extend VAWA until at least Dec. 21. 

This means the landmark domestic violence law will not lapse for the second time in 25 years.

The law was set to expire Sept. 30, but it was extended through Dec. 7 under a stopgap spending bill that expires this week. Text of the latest short-term spending deal was released Monday.

The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994 to support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The legislation came together in the aftermath of the 1991 Anita Hill hearings — where Hill alleged she faced sexual harassment by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas — and the subsequent “Year of the Woman,” when a record four women were elected to the Senate and 24 to the House in 1992.

The act expired in 2011, but many of the programs received funding in fiscal 2012 and 2013. 

VAWA was most recently reauthorized it in 2013, after a fight. Conservatives in the House GOP caucus opposed the bill after leadership brought the Senate version to the floor without committee consideration in the House.

The law authorizes funding for social service agencies that aid victims affected by sexual violence, including rape crisis centers, shelters and legal-assistance programs. Reauthorizations over the years have included expanded provisions focused on reporting mechanisms for sexual violence on college campuses and extending protections for the LGBT community.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in three women and one in six men encounter sexual violence during their lifetime.

Earlier this year, 46 House Republicans called on Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to bring a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor.

“Since being signed into law in 1994, VAWA has helped to protect and support millions of Americans who have faced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking,” the group, led by New Yorkers John Katko and Elise Stefanik, wrote in the letter.

The pair joined with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to introduce a standalone six-month extension of the VAWA provisions.

“Congress must continue to aggressively combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by swiftly reauthorizing the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),” Fitzpatrick said.

House Democrats introduced a VAWA reauthorization proposal in July, sponsored by Texas’s Sheila Jackson Lee, that includes updates to the law such as provisions to help victims of domestic violence and stalking stay in stable housing situations and to bar evictions based on the actions of an abuser.

The update, backed by more than 160 Democrats and no Republicans, also includes a gun-related provision that could prove to be a poison pill for any action in the GOP-led House. The Democratic proposal would expand firearms laws to ensure that partners under protective orders or convicted of dating violence or stalking are prohibited from having a gun. Some states already have so-called red flag laws in place, with the aim of preventing escalation of violence.

Neither measure was  brought to committee or the House floor.

Correction:An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the continuing resolution would not extend VAWA

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