Senate Passes the Violence Against Women Act

Senator Patrick Leahy portrait
Sen. Leahy (D-VT)

In a strong bipartisan act today, the Senate voted to renew the landmark Violence Against Women Act.

“VAWA has helped reduce the level of sexual violence across the country, so it's crucial for Congress to renew it. The bill the Senate passed today adds important new protections for victims and helps end the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases. We hope the House will quickly pass it as well," said Scott Berkowitz, RAINN’s president.

Spearheaded by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) with co-sponsor Mike Crapo (R-ID), VAWA passed today by a vote of 78-22. VAWA originally became law in 1994 but expired more than a year ago. The Senate vote sends the bill to the House for its consideration.

Sen. Leahy made one significant change to VAWA this year: he added the SAFER Act, which will help eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases.

The SAFER Act, sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) passed the Senate just after Christmas. Days later, the House passed an amended version of SAFER (sponsored by Reps. Ted Poe [R-TX] and Carolyn Maloney [D-NY]). But the vote came too late to reconcile its bill with the Senate before the 112th Congress adjourned.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up the measure in the coming weeks.


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