After months of negotiations in this chamber, a bipartisan group made Wednesday's announcement that they had reached an agreement to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
This legislation provides resources for victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence.
The Senate negotiations were led by Democrats Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Republicans Joni Ernst.
Durbin, the No. Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in this chamber, acknowledged that neither party had achieved all they desired in the reauthorization but praised the compromise as a step towards better addressing domestic abuse survivors.
He said, "Our bill was a compromise." It doesn't contain everything Sen. Feinstein, I and Sen. Ernst wanted, nor Murkowski and Murkowski. There are provisions that we all wanted to include, including an end to the loophole that allows those who abuse their partners to keep access to guns.
The "boyfriend loophole" was the term used by the Illinois senator to refer to the law that bars spousal abusers who are convicted from having access firearms. However, it does not apply in all cases to abuse victims and their dating partners. We agreed that we needed to present a bill that would provide the crucial assistance that survivors in America require and gain the bipartisan support necessary to pass the Senate. Durbin stated that the bipartisan agreement reached will accomplish this. Durbin called the legislation "a lifesaving bill that ensures that every survivor can get help in times of crisis."
In 1994, the original Violence Against Women Act was signed by Bill Clinton. It marked a significant moment in federal government's aggressive prosecution of domestic abusers and legal protection for those accused of intimate violence.
As a senator, President Biden played a key role in the passage of the original legislation. He said Wednesday in a statement that he was grateful that the bill, which is critical for bipartisan cooperation, is moving forward and that he looks forward to Congress delivering it immediately to his desk.
The four senators who championed Senate Bill noted in a joint press release that VAWA was reauthorized under Democrats and Republicans -- in 2000 and 2005, respectively.
The House approved a renewal last year. Susan Davis, NPR's reporter at the time, reported that the law was repealed at the close of 2018, but had little practical impact because Congress continues funding related programs despite not having authorization.
The senators released that their bill, which would reauthorize VAWA until 2026, included provisions to strengthen rape prevention efforts, provide legal financing and increase support for marginalized communities such as LGBTQ survivors, and "expand special penal jurisdiction by tribal courts in order to cover non-Native victims of sexual assault."