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State Attorney General urges U.S. Senate to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

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Posted at 2:22 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 14:22:29-04

New York Attorney General Letitia James urged the U.S. Senate to take action to protect women nationwide by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

It expired more than a year ago.

In a letter to Senate leadership, Attorney General James and a coalition of 23 additional attorneys general from around the country, stated that as isolation and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic increased, so have the risks to women who have fallen victim to domestic violence.

“More than 25 years have passed since the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law, but Congress’s failure to reauthorize the act for over a year has endangered women across the country and still continues to do so," said Attorney General James.

The House bill currently waiting for passage by the Senate expands the protections of the Violence Against Women Act by:

  • Strengthening protections for Native women by expanding jurisdiction of tribal courts over non-Native men who abuse Native women
  • Codifying important protections for LGBTQ+ individuals
  • Closing the “boyfriend loophole,” so that certain abusive dating partners cannot continue to possess firearms under federal law.

The Violence Against Women Act was originally signed into law in 1994, creating an Office on Violence Against Women within the U.S. Department of Justice.

It provided billions of dollars for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, as well as financial support to women in need.

The act has been reauthorized several times, most recently in 2013. Each time Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, it expanded the protections under the law with bipartisan support.

The most recent reauthorization expired in September 2018, and Attorney General James said Congress failed to pass another reauthorization.