Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on December 16, 2021, released the following joint statement after reaching an agreement on a bipartisan framework to modernize and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act:
“After nearly three years of negotiations, we have reached an agreement on a bipartisan framework to strengthen, modernize and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. This important legislation will help prevent violence, support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable for their violent actions.
“We are committed to introducing a bipartisan, modernized VAWA reauthorization next month. Every day that goes by without action puts lives at risk, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that this framework becomes law as soon as possible.”
The framework includes the following provisions:
- Strengthens rape prevention and education efforts and services and protections for young survivors;
- Expands access to emergency housing support for survivors;
- Expands and authorizes programs to ensure that VAWA provides access to survivors in rural areas, survivors requiring culturally specific services, LGBT survivors and survivors who seek voluntary, community-based restorative practice services;
- Provides support for legal services funding and trauma-informed law enforcement responses;
- Aligns the current law with VAWA’s original intent by ensuring that individuals who are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence against a dating partner are prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition (the provision would apply only to protective orders and convictions issued after the VAWA reauthorization’s date of enactment);
- Improves the response to sexual violence, including through grants to promote the training of sexual assault forensic examiners; and
- Builds on the 2013 reauthorization to expand special criminal jurisdiction by tribal courts to cover non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands. It also includes an Alaska pilot program that will empower a limited number of Tribes to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes that occur in Alaska Native villages.