Klobuchar and Dingell discussed their provisions in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act to protect dating partners by closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ and prevent convicted stalkers from obtaining a gun
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Congressional leaders today called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow a vote on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA authorization lapsed more than 100 days ago, and it has now been 48 days since the House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act with bipartisan support. More than 120 bills passed by the House of Representatives are awaiting action in the Senate.
Also at the press conference were Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Sean Casten (D-IL), and Kate Ranta, a domestic violence survivor and advocate. A livestream of the press event is archived here.
“We have an opportunity in front of us right now—an opportunity to stand with women and take up the VAWA reauthorization that includes Congresswoman Dingell and my priorities and passed the House with bipartisan support 48 days ago,” Klobuchar said. “Senate Republicans are going to face a real test: Are they going to stand on the side of women? Or are they going to stand on the side of the NRA?”
“Domestic violence doesn’t just hurt one person. It hurts families. It hurts the entire community. And it hurts law enforcement agents who are there to protect us. That’s what this is about. That’s why we stood together today to call for a vote on the VAWA Reauthorization Act.”
“Protecting the people of this country is what drives our work in Congress,” Dingell said. “It has been over a month since the House passed VAWA and the Senate needs to schedule a vote. VAWA programs can’t just be extended, we need to make updates. Right now the “boyfriend loophole” allows convicted stalkers and abusers to still purchase weapons. We must close this loophole to save lives. This is important and the women and families of America cannot wait.”
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act includes Klobuchar and Dingell’s provision to close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have been convicted of abusing a dating partner from buying or owning a gun. The bill would also prevent convicted stalkers from possessing a gun—commonsense updates to federal law that many states have already adopted.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of legislation that sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. The passage of VAWA in 1994 and its reauthorization in 2000, 2005, and 2013 were supported by bipartisan majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The legislation has ensured that victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking have been able to access support services, and brought a new understanding that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking are crimes that our society will not tolerate.
Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to prevent domestic violence. She is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and prior to her time in the Senate, Klobuchar served as Hennepin County Attorney. In January, Klobuchar and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) reintroduced the Abby Honold Act—bipartisan legislation that would promote the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes. In 2018, Klobuchar and Senator Cornyn’s SAFER Act—legislation that would reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog—was signed into law. In 2016, the Klobuchar-backed bipartisan Justice for All Reauthorization Act was signed into law. The law strengthens the rights of crime victims by providing the protection they need to restore their lives and enhances law enforcement’s ability to proactively stop violent criminals. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act also aims to reduce the rape kit backlog by supporting grant programs that fund forensic testing.
Dingell has also spent her career fighting for victims of domestic abuse. In April 2018, Dingell launched the Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence in the House of Representatives. The caucus brings together members of Congress and key stakeholders dedicated to ending domestic violence, creating innovative prevention strategies, and strengthening resources for survivors and their children.
CAPTION: Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) called for a vote on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. They were joined by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Sean Casten (D-IL), and Kate Ranta, a domestic violence survivor and advocate.