Culminating a long battle by advocates, Congress finally is on the verge of reauthorizing the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The entire 331-page legislation was included in a $1.5 trillion bill that provides big funding increases for key federal agencies and would eliminate the need for a federal government shutdown set for the end of the week.
Democrats who released the spending package early Wednesday said that in addition to extending VAWA, the measure provides $575 million for prevention and prosecution programs involving crime against women and $201 million to reduce the backlog of unprocessed rape kits and other DNA evidence.
Ruth Glenn of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said that "VAWA is critical to the safety and healing of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, and it has now been unauthorized for three years.
"We, and the domestic violence programs, shelters, advocates, and survivors we represent, appreciate the bipartisan leadership of all of the Members of Congress who came together to make this happen.”
The House is expected to vote on the bill today and sent it to Senate. the House is also voting on a four-day continuing resolution (CR) that will keep federal agencies funded through March 15 in case both chambers are unable to complete action by midnight Friday.
Among other provisions of the bill related to criminal justice:
-- the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program to help states and localities will increase by $20 million, up from $360 million last fiscal year to $382 million this year.
-- the cap on the Crime Victims Fund rises to $1.885 billion, up from $1.469 billion last year but down from $2.064 billion in fiscal year 2020.
-- Community Violence Intervention programs will be funded for the first time as a separate grant program at $50 million.
-- Community Oriented Policing grants would get $512 million.
-- The National Instant Criminal Background Check system would receive $95 million.