Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Signed into Law

Co-sponsors Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Mike Crapo said the bill's passage was a rare moment of congressional bipartisanship.

President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law March 7, with the bill's two chief sponsors, U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, attending the White House signing ceremony. They called it a bright moment in a divided Congress.

"We made the Violence Against Women Act our top priority this Congress, and today, President Obama signed this vital legislation into law. At a time when we face gridlock and stonewalling on even the most compelling issues, I am glad to see that we acted in a bipartisan manner to help victims of violence in Vermont and across the country," Leahy said. "Today, victims of violence, members of law enforcement, and those committed to working against domestic and sexual violence celebrate the signing of this important law, and I applaud them for their work and dedication to seeing that the Violence Against Women Act be reauthorized this year."

"I want to thank the many advocates and victims of crime in Idaho and across the country who have assisted us in passing this critical legislation," said Crapo. "The national statistics show this assistance is working to reduce domestic crimes by a third. Sadly, Idaho is not following that trend, and we have four murder cases linked to domestic violence already this calendar year."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has also made domestic violence prevention a signature issue recently. Saying the number of Dallas murders related to domestic violence had more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, he called for 10,000 men to join him March 23, 2013, at the Men Against Abuse Rally at Dallas City Hall Plaza. "This isn’t only a Dallas problem or even just a North Texas problem. It’s a worldwide epidemic," Rawlings wrote in a message about the rally on his official website. "But in order for significant change to occur, we must address this issue locally. To be clear, this event doesn’t exclude women. In fact, I worked closely with women and experts at women’s shelters on this effort. But we have to speak to men because we are a significant part of the problem," he added.

The new federal law renews VAWA's charter for five years. It adds protections for tribal victims, immigrant victims, and LGBT victims and also seeks to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the country. It extends for four years the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which expired in September 2011.

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