Leahy’s Bipartisan Legislation To Support Victims of Domestic And Sexual Violence Signed Into Law

. . . Violence Against Women Act Is Renewed Another Five Years

WASHINGTON – The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), signed into law today by President Barack Obama, will strengthen programs and policies meant to prevent domestic and sexual violence and protect victims, ensuring continued services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the bill’s lead Senate authors, both attended a White House signing ceremony Thursday that they said was long overdue but a bright spot in a divided Congress.

Leahy, who as Senate President Pro Tem is a member of Senate leadership, insisted that the chamber act quickly to reauthorize the measure this year.

Vermonter Karen Tronsgard-Scott, head of the Vermont Network Against Domestic And Sexual Violence, was also on hand for the signing.

“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,” said Leahy. “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,” Crapo said.  “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.”

The law signed by the President today renews VAWA’s charter for another five years, and includes new and vital protections for all victims of domestic violence, adding protections for tribal victims, immigrant victims and LGBT victims.  The law also seeks to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits throughout the country, provides needed assistance to law enforcement in prosecuting sexual assault crimes, and assists law enforcement in investigating human trafficking crimes by also reauthorizing for four years the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which expired in September 2011.  

“As a husband, father, and grandfather, and as a former prosecutor who saw the aftermath of this type of violence firsthand, I am honored to have worked to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act,” said Leahy. “I applaud the hard work of Senator Crapo and many others, and I thank President Obama for signing our bill into law today.”

"Chairman Leahy deserves the gratitude of all Americans for his leadership on this legislation,” Crapo added.  “If just one life is saved because of VAWA than our work has been worth it.  We must continue to advocate for the victims and agencies that assist those hurt by domestic and sexual abuse.  While the signing of VAWA into law for another five years will help countless lives, we need to ensure we continue to have the most up-to-date protections to stop this violence in place."

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