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Violence Against Women Act reauthorization is added to a $1.5 trillion spending bill

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., center, holds a news conference to announce a bipartisan update to the Violence Against Women Act at the Capitol on Feb. 9.
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., center, holds a news conference to announce a bipartisan update to the Violence Against Women Act at the Capitol on Feb. 9.

Party leaders announced Wednesday that a long-stalled reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — the federal law that provides resources to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence — is included in the $1.5 trillion federal spending package making its way through Congress this week.

First enacted in 1994, VAWA lapsed four years ago due to a partisan dispute over an expanded gun provision that Democrats wanted to include in the updated version of the law. Republicans objected, and the reauthorization languished on Capitol Hill ever since.

Last month, senators announced they had reached an agreement after months of renewed talks. Democrats backed down from an earlier demand to include a provision that would have expanded existing gun laws that prohibit convicted abusers of possessing firearms, addressing what's commonly referred to as the "boyfriend loophole."

While the law lapsed years ago, it had little practical effect, as Congress continued to provide funding for its critical programs.

The renewed measure will expand existing resources to include more victims in marginalized and rural communities and for prevention programs on college campuses.

Then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., played a critical role in crafting the initial 1994 law and his administration pushed for its renewal.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.