Advance Notice: Briefs

More than three years after lapsing, Biden signs Violence Against Women Act reauthorization

By: - March 21, 2022 8:54 am

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell attends President Joe Biden’s remarks on his American Jobs Plan and the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck at the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the truck will be produced, on Tuesday, May 18. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

More than three years after it expired, a landmark piece of anti-domestic violence legislation was signed back into law last week, with U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) calling it “long overdue.” 

A ceremony was held Wednesday at the White House event to mark the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Dingell, who wrote two of the provisions in the package, noted that it was then-Sen. Biden who “championed the original VAWA, recognizing that no woman, no child, and no family should fear for their life because of domestic violence. Since then, we have broken down stigmas, helped survivors escape abusive situations, and got them the support they need.” 

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First enacted in 1994, VAWA provides funding for programs and services that seek to prevent violence, support crime victims, and change public attitudes about violence against women. The law had been reauthorized three times previously; in 2000, 2005 and in 2013.

However, it was allowed to lapse in early 2019 after Congress failed to extend it during a legislative battle over funding the government and avoiding a shutdown. Republicans wanted a so-called “clean extension” as part of a spending deal eventually signed by former President Donald Trump. Democrats rejected that, instead wanted more sweeping legislation outside the confines of the shutdown debate. 

VAWA was finally reauthorized by Congress last week as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus package that will fund the government for the next eight months. 

“For nearly a decade,” Dingell said, “Congress failed to reauthorize this historically bipartisan legislation — resulting in lapses in programs and losses in critical funding — adding to the fear and uncertainty faced by too many survivors.” 

She said those resources have been “desperately needed, especially as we witness significant increases in domestic violence cases throughout the pandemic.” 

Dingell, who serves as co-chair of the Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence, authored the VAWA Health provision, which she said strengthens the health care system’s identification, assessment and response to domestic violence, sexual assault and dating violence survivors with an expanded focus on accessing behavioral health and safety resources across the lifespan. 

The bipartisan E-SERVICE Act, meanwhile, will set up a pilot program grant to explore the electronic service of protection orders, thus updating how survivors of domestic violence can obtain protection orders.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.

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