Tester to McConnell: ‘Time is Now’ to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

Critical bill provides protections, resources for victims of violence

As part of his ongoing effort to protect victims of violence in Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today joined his Senate colleagues in a push for reauthorization of the critical Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which faces uncertainty due to inaction in Congress.

First enacted in 1994, VAWA provides resources to protect victims and help survivors of violence, including in Indian Country and rural communities. VAWA expired earlier this year, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to bring the House-passed reauthorization bill to the floor for a vote.

“The Violence Against Women Act saves lives, plain and simple,” Tester said. “This bill is responsible for providing lifesaving resources to domestic violence shelters and Tribal justice initiatives across our state, and letting it lapse puts all of those critical initiatives at risk. The time is now for Majority Leader McConnell to bring VAWA reauthorization up for a vote, so we can keep building on the success of this landmark legislation, and families in Montana and across the country can continue to benefit from the key protections and services it provides.”

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 would extend the program until 2024 and contains improvements to keep communities across Montana safe, including:

  • Two bills cosponsored by Tester to expand Tribal jurisdiction over domestic violence and related crimes. The Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act would extend special VAWA Tribal jurisdiction to cover sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking, and the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act would expand the jurisdiction to include related crimes against children and law enforcement .
  • The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, which would prevent convicted domestic abusers from owning firearms.
  • Dedicated funding for victims in rural communities, and aims to increase services provided by community health centers, rural health providers, and those who serve medically underserved populations.
  • Increased funding for campus safety grants in order to help institutions of higher education develop educational materials and expand training for school-based personnel and campus health centers.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 with bipartisan support in April.

Tester is a tireless advocate for women and families in Montana, backing programs and initiatives that help keep communities all over the state safe. He voted to reauthorize VAWA in 2013, and recently secured $500 million for VAWA in recent funding bill passed by the Senate. The bill also includes $3.17 billion for the Crime Victim Fund, and maintains the five percent set-aside for Tribes. Tester is also pushing a slew of bills aimed at curbing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis.