Tester Leads Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

Bipartisan legislation renews prevention and response efforts for violent crimes nationwide

As part of his ongoing effort to protect victims of violence in Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester joined his Senate colleagues in a bipartisan push to reauthorize the critical Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired in 2019.

“The Violence Against Women Act is a lifesaving bill for crime victims in Montana and across the country, and it’s long overdue we get its essential programs back up and running,” said Tester. “This legislation provides critical resources to domestic violence shelters and Tribal justice initiatives across Montana, and failing to reauthorize those resources jeopardizes the safety and wellbeing of folks across the Treasure State. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting these commonsense crime prevention and response efforts for Montana families.”

First enacted in 1994, VAWA provides resources to protect victims and help survivors of violence, including in Indian Country and rural communities. The VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2021 would extend these resources until 2027 and contains improvements to keep communities across Montana safe, including:

  • Reauthorizing funding for critical VAWA programs and modernizing efforts to prevent and respond to violence, including health care, housing, legal and other services for survivors of violence
  • Improving programs to ensure that VAWA provides access to resources for survivors in rural areas, survivors in Indian Country, LGBTQ survivors, older survivors, and survivors with disabilities
  • Providing additional access to victim-centered and trauma-informed care for survivors
  • Improving law enforcement response to domestic violence incidents, including additional tools to hold perpetrators accountable and better serve victims of domestic violence

The bill also includes number of provisions to improve public safety in Indian Country, including:

  • Expanding special VAWA Tribal jurisdiction and the restoring of Tribes’ ability to hold non-Native perpetrators accountable if they commit sexual assault, child abuse, staking, sex trafficking, or assault a Tribal law enforcement officer in Indian Country
  • Improving information sharing between federal and Tribal law enforcement
  • Creating new positions within the Department of Justice responsible for coordinating and advising on culturally specific VAWA programs, and providing technical assistance for Tribes and communities applying for grants

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the VAWA Reauthorization Act with bipartisan support in March of 2021.

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 pushed for its reauthorization in 2019. Additionally, in 2021 he helped pass the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act, allowing funds from settlement agreements to be deposited into the Fund and ensuring critical funding for survivors and service providers remains available.