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Ernst proposes measure to bolster protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault

The Iowa Senator, a survivor herself, is putting forward a practical solution to reauthorizing and modernizing VAWA that prioritizes protecting and supporting survivors and punishing abusers

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a survivor and an outspoken leader on the issue of combating domestic violence and sexual assault, today spoke on the floor outlining her comprehensive bill to reauthorize and modernize theViolence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Senator Ernst’s proposal, supported by a number of her colleagues, provides a 10% increase in funding, triples the support for rape prevention and education from current levels, and includes a number of bipartisan measures to address VAWA-related crimes throughout the country, including in rural areas like her home state of Iowa.

“As a survivor and someone who worked at a victim’s shelter during my time in college, I have a clear understanding of how vital it is for survivors to have resources and support in what can be some of the darkest times of their lives,” said Ernst. “Reauthorizing VAWA shouldn’t be a partisan issue—we should be putting the wellbeing of women and children of sexual and domestic violence first. That’s what this bill does; it’s a practical solution that focuses on survivors, not politics. Our bill will dramatically increase resources for survivors, punish abusers, and provide greater support for our rural communities in Iowa and across the country. I’m optimistic that my colleagues—Republican and Democrat—will join me in getting this vitally important bill signed into law.”

Senator Ernst’s measure is supported by a number of her colleagues, including Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), and Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Deb Fischer (R-NE), David Perdue (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).

“This legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act provides important resources to help address domestic violence and sexual assault, and to support survivors in their recovery,” said Hoeven. “Additionally, this legislation includes Savanna’s Act and the SURVIVE Act, two bills I’ve supported to better assist tribal communities in preventing and addressing violence against Native American women.”

“The 2019 Violence Against Women Reauthorization funds more shelters for domestic violence victims and includes my legislation to stop the horrendous practice of female genital mutilation. By addressing this problem, we can ensure that perpetrators of such violence against women and young girls are brought to justice. I thank Senator Ernst for her leadership in the fight to protect women who have experienced unthinkable trauma,” said Senator Blackburn.

“I’m grateful to Senator Ernst for her leadership as she’s negotiated in good faith with our Democratic colleagues to extend this critical law,” said Cornyn. “This bill puts more resources towards victims’ rights programs and gives additional certainty to survivors with a ten-year reauthorization. I hope our friends across the aisle will put politics aside and support this legislation, which has done so much good for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence over the last 25 years.”

“This is an important issue to me and my family, and I am dedicated to promoting policies ensuring a safeguard for victims of domestic abuse,” said Cramer. “This version of the Violence Against Women Act provides funding for programs aimed at preventing domestic violence and supporting victims, and it includes important measures to address these issues in rural areas and on tribal lands. I thank Senator Ernst for her leadership, and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting it.”

“Violence of any kind, especially against women, is reprehensible,” said Perdue. “I am proud to support this effort to combat domestic violence and better support survivors. For more than two decades, this initiative has made an impact in the lives of women who have gone through extreme trauma, and partisan politics should never stand in the way of its continuation. Senator Ernst has been a warrior in this effort, and I’m grateful for her leadership.”

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