Leahy Committee Statement On The Need To Reauthorize The Violence Against Women Act

I would like to take a moment to recognize Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who passed away last week at the age of 88.  Her colleagues in the House remember her as a trailblazer who inspired countless young women to seek their rightful place at the head of the table.  She co-authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 and she was a champion of equal rights throughout her career.  So let us remember her legacy this morning, as we look at ways to further advance this important legislation.

The Violence Against Women Act is one of the most consequential laws within the jurisdiction of our Committee.  Passing a reinvigorated VAWA reauthorization was a top priority of mine as the Chairman of this Committee in 2013.  I was proud to partner with Senator Crapo in this effort. Our bill included new protections for some of the most vulnerable populations—students, immigrants, tribal victims, and members of the LGBT community.  It sought to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits and provide assistance to investigate and prosecute sexual assault and human trafficking crimes.  Passing such an expansive reauthorization was not easy, but we were aided by the incredible work of tireless victims’ advocates and service providers who knew that this legislation would make a real difference in victims’ lives.

As we begin this reauthorization journey anew, I am heartened by the bipartisan interest in this Committee to protect important advances we made in 2013.  And I will work again with all of my colleagues to ensure that this critical law keeps up with the times, reflects the consensus of the advocacy community, and best serves to help protect victims of violence throughout our country.

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