Combating Domestic Violence

Combating Domestic Violence

by Congressman Tom Cole

Weekly Column

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we recognize the unacceptable existence of domestic violence in communities across the nation, and we join in strong support of victims and survivors. While this is a sobering time of awareness, it is also a timely reminder for Congress to act on legislation to renew resources for states, local and tribal governments to combat and prevent domestic violence.

Twenty-five years ago, lawmakers in Congress came together to pass and the president signed into law the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provided hope and support for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. In the years since then, various VAWA programs administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) have helped communities and law enforcement address crimes of domestic violence. Rightly so, with each five-year reauthorization, VAWA has sought to improve upon and strengthen the tools available for combating violence against women and vulnerable populations.

Unfortunately, VAWA’s authorization expired in February of this year, causing uncertainty for the entities stewarding resources. While the Senate still has not brought up legislation to reauthorize VAWA, I was encouraged that the House did so in April. Certainly, there were provisions in the House bill with which I profoundly disagreed. But as a tribal member and supporter of tribal sovereignty, I also recognized the value of several provisions consistent with my voting record on tribal issues and views regarding the protection of Native women and children.



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