Biden signs, celebrates reauthorization of bipartisan Violence Against Women Act

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


After a five-year logjam, President Joe Biden has officially extended the 1994 bill that provided historic federal protection and resources for women who have been victimized by domestic and sexual violence.

A little over a month after a bipartisan group of 18 Senators announced they’d reached a compromise, and less than a week after its passage as part of a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, the Violence Against Women Act was extended through 2027 by virtue of a stroke of Biden’s pen Tuesday. The President and officials began celebrating the conclusion of the bill’s trek to passage on Wednesday.

“It’s wonderful to see so many brave survivors and dedicated advocates and — and, truly, old friends — so many who have worked so hard to modernize the Violence Against Women Act to make it stronger and make sure that it endures,” Biden told a gathering of the lawmakers, advocates, and officials who pushed for the bill’s passage.

The reauthorized Violence Against Women Act is, as the name suggests, primarily an expansion of the previous iteration of the law. It contains numerous funding allocations for anti-abuse services, programs, and training as well as expanded resources for law enforcement.

Perhaps the most notable addition to the 2022 act is a measure that creates expanded protections for victims of “revenge” pornography – the act of sharing or threatening to share someone’s intimate photos or videos with members of the public. The law establishes a new National Resource Center on Cybercrimes Against Individuals and contains language that allows victims to seek damages and legal fees from their harassers in federal court.

The new version of VAWA also includes additional funding aimed at reducing violence in indigenous and Native American tribal communities, an issue explored by FISM last year, and expands resources available to members of the LGBTQ+ community who experience violence.

“As one of the one out of three women that have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, I’ve worked for three years, in good-faith and across the aisle, to reauthorize and modernize this very important legislation,” Sen. Jodi Ernst (R-Iowa) said in a statement. “My hope is that with this bill, some women will never have to suffer this horrific, personal abuse, and those that do will have the necessary support and resources in a moment of crisis to cope with and ultimately overcome their trauma.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who worked with Ernst to ensure the bill’s passage celebrated the official renewal with a speech on the floor of the Senate.

“I’m delighted that President Biden signed [VAWA] into law yesterday as part of the omnibus spending bill,” Feinstein said. “It’s important to know that this bill reauthorizes critical programs that help respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. It’s long overdue, but today this [bill is now] law.”