Cantwell Demands Action: “It is Time to Take Action on Violence Against Women Act”

VAWA expired in February 2019 - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow vote on bipartisan House-passed legislation for 48 days; Cantwell: If Democrats were in charge, the Violence Against Women Act would already be passed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined colleagues from both the Senate and House of Representatives to demand a Senate vote on the bipartisan, House-passed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which expired in February.

“It is time to take action on this bill on the Senate floor,” Cantwell said. “If Democrats were in charge, I guarantee you that the Violence Against Women Act would have already been on the floor and passed.” 

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – landmark legislation to improve criminal justice and local, state, and federal resources and responses to domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking – first passed into law in 1994. It has subsequently been reauthorized with updates, including protections for LGBTQ and Tribal women, in 2000, 2005, and 2013. 

However, VAWA expired in February, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow a vote on bipartisan legislation passed by the House of Representatives for 48 days, leaving women around the country in a perilous position. 

“We need to have the Violence Against Women Act and all the tools that go with it to help women throughout the United States,” Cantwell said. 

In her remarks, Cantwell highlighted the importance of VAWA to Tribal communities in Washington and throughout the country. During the 2013 reauthorization fight, she championed key provisions of the reauthorization that strengthen protections for victims in Tribal communities. 

“In 2013, we fought to have native women included in VAWA… For indigenous women and children throughout the United States, we must act,” Cantwell said. “Last year a report released by the Seattle Indian Health Board found that the rates of violence against women on Indian reservations are 10 times higher than the national average. … The state of Washington has the second highest number of cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, right behind New Mexico. Seattle has the highest number of cases of any city in the United States.” 

Senator Cantwell has long fought for increased resources to combat domestic violence and protections for survivors. In addition to her work on the 2013 VAWA reauthorization, she has pushed legislation to combat the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. And in 2017, she joined her colleagues in calling on the Trump administration to maintain protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, and other crimes.