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House Renews Violence Against Women Act, But Senate Hurdles Remain

The House approved with bipartisan support a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a popular 1994 law that protects and provides resources for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The VAWA now faces uncertainty in the Senate.

The most contentious issue in the House-passed bill is a provision that closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” and expands the criminal threshold to bar anyone convicted of domestic abuse or stalking from obtaining a firearm. The latest reauthorization also ensures non-tribal offenders on tribal lands can be held accountable, and includes funds for housing vouchers, so survivors in federally-assisted housing are able to relocate quickly if they need to. It guarantees, too, that people will be able to obtain unemployment insurance if they have to leave a job because of concerns for their safety. It would also strengthen existing protections for transgender women to access women's shelters and serve in prisons that match their gender identity.

The National Rifle Association opposed the legislation for the first time in 2019, after the insertion of the gun control provisions. Republicans have indicated that the gun provisions would be a problem in the Senate, and the future of the bill is uncertain.

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