Congress extends Violence Against Women Act through 2011

WASHINGTON -- In an office press release, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici reported on Dec. 16 that the Senate and House have completed work on a bill to extend authorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) through 2011. Existing authorization expired Sept. 30.

Late on Dec. 16, the senate approved the five-year extension bill (HR.3402) by unanimous consent, with changes. The House of Representatives Saturday accepted the Senate-altered bill, completing congressional work on the measure. The bill can be sent to President Bush to become law. (The Senate initially approved its version of the extension, S.1197, in early October.)

"It is good to have this bill done and ready for the President. Services to battered and abused women have not been disrupted, but it is ideal to have VAWA fully authorized so there can be no questions raised about the legitimacy of the good services it provides. VAWA has done well to help protect and improve the lives of abused women and children," Domenici said.

The Navajo Nation receives its funding for VAWA programs though block grants and programs working with native families.

First enacted in 1994, VAWA provides the backbone for federal programs and services provided to communities and states in the battle against domestic violence. VAWA activities are administered by the Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women.

The bill to renew VAWA will continue programs established in the original 1994 law, and authorize new programs to improve treatment for children impacted by violence, enhance health care for rape victims, hold repeat offenders and high-tech stalkers accountable, ease housing problems for battered women and help domestic violence victims keep their jobs.

Domenici serves on the Senate appropriations committee that funds the Justice Department and VAWA programs. On Nov. 22, President Bush signed into law the FY2006 appropriations bill that provides $386.5 million for VAWA programs, a level of funding slightly above FY2005 funding.

(Michael Wero is Legislative Associate & Communications Specialist for the Navajo Nation Washington Office.)

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