Senators announced a bipartisan deal to reauthorize the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) after Democrats dropped an effort to add contentious language related to guns, reports the Wall Street Journal.
VAWA was enacted in 1994 to provide funding for prosecutions of domestic violence crimes, shelters and other programs to aid abuse victims. It lapsed in 2019. Republicans opposed Democratic efforts to add language that would have closed the “boyfriend loophole” by barring people convicted of crimes related to dating violence from possessing firearms. Under current law, people convicted or under restraining orders for domestic violence can’t access guns. The prohibition doesn’t apply to partners who don’t live together or have children together.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) helped broker the deal with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Republican Sens. Joni Ernst (IA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK). “Combating domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking should not be a Democratic issue or Republican issue,” said President Biden, says VAWA was his proudest legislative achievement from his years in the Senate. Provisions added to the updated bill include expanded access to medical exams for rural victims of sexual assault; language that clarifies tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Native Americans accused of domestic or sexual violence, sex trafficking or stalking on tribal lands; and authorization of grants for services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims of domestic or sexual crimes.