Legislative Liaison Director: Sonja Faulkner League of Women Voters Glen Ellyn
Latest Report: OCTOBER 9, 2018
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (VAWA):
On Friday, September 28, Congress passed, and the President, signed a stopgap, spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. This bill included a short-term extension of the Violence Against Women Act that was due to expire on September 30. The extension for VAWA is only through December 7.
This law was initially passed in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act. It provided funding for rape crisis centers, safe shelters, legal assistance, and social services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
This legislation was passed in the aftermath of the Anita Hill hearings during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, and the “Year-of the Woman,” when a record number of women ran for & won congressional seats in 1992.
The Act was reauthorized in 2000, 2005, and 2013. From 2011-2013, it was not reauthorized due to some legislators’ objections to expanding protections to immigrants, Native American women and the LGBTQ community, as provided in the legislation at that time.
This year’s version of the bill expands the law to allow enforcement officials to take weapons from domestic abusers who legally can’t own guns.
There are deep concerns that failure to reauthorize this bill beyond December 7 will not only have significant legal and financial implications but also symbolic implications. Victim rights groups have said that failing to extend VAWA could give the impression that curbing violence against women is not a priority. Certainly, the responses to Christine Ford’s decision to testify at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings would give some women grave concerns about coming forward.
On September 21st, The League of Women Voters of Illinois, in a “Call for Action”, urged League members to ask their Congressional Representatives to sign on as co-sponsors of HR 6545-Violence Against Women Act.
The LWVIL stated:
“Since 1994, when funding for the Act was first authorized, the US League of Women Voters has supported violence prevention programs through the allocation of public monies for government programs to prevent violence.”
Sonja Faulkner, Legislative Liaison Director