The Republican-held House passed the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, sending it to President Obama for his signature on Thursday after months of bipartisan back-and-forth.
The reauthorization is hailed as a landmark decision for providing protection to all victims of sexual and domestic violence including same-sex couples, transgender people, immigrants and Native Americans. The newly-passed bill is aimed at reducing domestic abuse and sexual violence by improving the criminal justice response to offenders, strengthening punishments for repeat offenders and focusing on sexual assault prevention.
The bill also renews the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which provides continued support for victims of trafficking with additional assistance and resources as well as the ability to better prosecute those involved with stricter penalties.
Obama has already said he will sign the legislation, “renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.”
The law, which expired in 2011, is attributed to raising awareness about the abuse of women as well as funding programs to help prosecute those who commit sexual assault and domestic abuse. Additionally, the bill will continue to provide funding for battered women’s shelters, victim’s advocates and rape-prevention education.
The renewal will authorize up to $660 million to be spent each year for the next 5 years for the current programs as well as grants for transitional housing, legal assistance for victims and additional training for law enforcement.