Nearly 50 House Republicans are calling on Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to bring a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor before it expires Sept. 30.
“Since being signed into law in 1994, VAWA has helped to protect and support millions of Americans who have faced domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking,” the group, led by New Yorkers John Katko and Elise Stefanik, wrote in a letter.
The group cited Centers for Disease Control statistics that show one in three women and one in six men encounter sexual violence during their lifetime.
Congress first passed the landmark domestic violence law in 1993 and most recently reauthorized it in 2013. There are only seven legislative days where both chambers are slated to be in session until the end of the month.
“This landmark legislation has drastically improved our nation’s response to these crimes and has contributed to the overall declining rates of domestic abuse since its enactment. However, instances of violence are still very common” said the letter.
“This is a bipartisan issue that affects every district in the country and we must act now to avoid any lapse in these critical services,” Stefanik said in a statement Monday.
A reauthorization proposal, introduced by Democrats in July, includes provisions to help victims of domestic violence and stalking stay in stable housing situations and to bar evictions based on the actions of an abuser. It also includes an expansion of gun control laws aimed at prohibiting persons convicted of dating violence and stalking and those under protective orders from possessing firearms. Some states already have so-called red flag laws in place, with the aim of preventing escalation of violence.
In 2013, conservatives in the House GOP caucus opposed the bill after leadership brought the Senate version to the floor without committee consideration in the House.
“This is not a partisan issue. VAWA has been continually reauthorized on a bipartisan basis in Congress. We must act now to maintain and strengthen this critical law,” wrote the group of Republicans.