The latest funding bill passed by Congress on Thursday night does not include an extension to reauthorize the decades-old Violence Against Women Act, despite its expiration on Friday, as Democrats plan to push for an overhaul of the legislation in near future.
In the hours leading up to the official filing of the final spending bill early Thursday morning, Democrats and Republicans were at odds over whether to roll a clean extension of the law into the spending bill, with Democrats lobbying to keep it out.
Democrats objected to including the clean extension, according to two Democratic aides, saying that they would have more leverage to negotiate a broader re-authorization of VAWA outside the confines of the spending deal.
The law was originally enacted in 1994 and provides grants and support to various groups that work on issues relating to sexual assault, domestic violence and prevention, among other things.
On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy voiced the GOP’s desire to extend the legislation, saying at a news conference: “We do not want to have VAWA … expire. We want to extend it out, that will become a question down, hopefully Speaker Pelosi would not want to have VAWA expire, which would be on Friday. That’s why we would like to add that and make sure it’s in.”
But Democrats ultimately got their wish – and now plan to revamp the law.
“We expect a full re-authorization bill will be introduced next month,” a Democratic aide said in an email on Thursday.
And although it will not be extended, the Democratic aide said that there will be “no impact.”
Democrats said there will be no tangible effect since the grants through the law are funded in the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations measure that is included in the package.
Last year, Democrats introduced a bill to reauthorize VAWA for an additional five years. The proposed legislation from last summer was introduced by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and CNN reported at the time that it also included provisions to the existing law.
Some of those additions included extending programs for youth education and prevention, as well as strengthening protections for victims using housing grants, and it establishes a Violence Against Women director position in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other additions to the law.
Additionally, the Democratic bill will look to add various gun safety measures, like prohibiting individuals who are convicted of dating violence and stalking from having firearms.
The bill was also reauthorized in 2013, but at the time Congress struggled to settle on aspects of the legislation relating to the inclusion of Native Americans, undocumented immigrants and lesbian, transgender and bisexual women. A Republican proposal was defeated in the House at the time, but the House ultimately passed a bipartisan Senate version of the bill.