The federal Violence Against Women Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1994 marked seminal legislation for victims of domestic violence. A recent Colorado Public Radio piece highlights the historical and important role played by the VAWA, noting that the enactment has “strengthened laws around domestic and sexual violence against women.”
Notwithstanding the legislation’s key impact in what is a sensitive and volatile sphere, the VAWA has periodically waxed and waned in its prestige and application in the years following its passage. Although the law understandably has legions of strong advocates, its proponents are coupled with critics who lambast the VAWA on grounds ranging from its funding to its scope.
What that most practically means is this: The VAWA has occasionally lapsed over the years, with mandated reauthorizations not always being forthcoming.
In fact, the law expired in 2019, being unable to garner sufficient support in Congress to ensure its uninterrupted continuity. Notably, and despite its lapse, the VAWA has continued to receive funding sufficient to ensure its continued operation at a meaningful level, even though its status comes with some question marks.
And now the congressional gears are turning again, as noted by the above-cited CPR article. The U.S. House passed a would-be reauthorization bill (with heavily partisan Democratic Party support) on March 17. Notably, Colorado House members split completely on party lines, with no Republican member favoring the reauthorization.
A key sticking point for bill opponents is the legislation’s expansion of firearm bans to a wider demographic of persons than were targeted under the law previously. For example, new language extends the ban to dating partners, which critics find overreaching.
The CPR piece duly underscores the “uncertain future” the new bill faces in the Senate.