Includes Kayden’s Law to Honor Memory of Kayden Mancuso 

WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021 (VAWA) with broad bipartisan support. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) introduced this reauthorization which will authorize funding for a variety of critical grant programs, including victim services, prevention, training, education, enforcement, economic stability, and other vital programs to support survivors, help them to heal, and access justice. 

VAWA’s authorization expired in 2018. Last Congress, the House passed a bipartisan reauthorization, but the Senate failed to take it up. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 is a slightly updated version of the bill passed last Congress. It addresses the challenges identified by survivors and by domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and other organizations that serve survivors. It has now been eight years since VAWA was last authorized. The landmark legislation, enacted in 1994 under the leadership of then-Senate Judiciary Chair Joe Biden, responds to our nation’s crisis of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. 

“VAWA has been instrumental in improving and enhancing our nation's response to safeguarding women and children from abuse, anguish, and violence. For years, VAWA programs have produced tangible, life-saving results, saving the lives of millions of women and children and providing educational tools to help survivors and their families rebuild their lives. This is not a partisan or controversial issue, which is why I put such a special emphasis on working to build broad bipartisan support for this critical, life-saving legislation. I’m thrilled to see that Kayden’s Law, which I authored, has also been included in this legislation and that Congress is directly addressing the important issue of protecting our children from family violence. 7-year old Kayden Mancuso of Bucks County was murdered by her father shortly after being awarded partial, unsupervised custody. This incident shook our community to its core and has served as a wake-up call for all levels of government that we must do more to protect our children,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick worked to foster bipartisan support for the bill which passed with the support of 29 Republicans.

The VAWA Reauthorization also includes Rep. Fitzpatrick’s Kayden's Law which takes the much-needed steps to improve our response to the well-documented, widespread failures of state courts to protect children in custody proceedings and increases funding under the STOP Grant program for States that put laws into place protecting child safety in any private State court proceeding affecting child care and custody. Kayden’s Law will strengthen our state courts’ abilities to recognize and adjudicate domestic violence and child abuse allegations based on valid, admissible evidence so that courts can enter orders that protect and minimize the risk of harm to children.

WATCH Congressman Fitzpatrick advocate for passage of the VAWA Reauthorization late last night.

“Since its inception in 1994, VAWA has been a critical tool in the work to end domestic violence. Congressman Fitzpatrick’s unwavering support of this bi-partisan effort has allowed A Woman’s Place to continue life-saving work under some of the most challenging circumstances of our lifetime. We are in full support of the 2021 reauthorization and appreciate that our congressional representatives embrace and understand the significant positive impact the expanded VAWA legal powers and funding have had on survivors of domestic violence and their families," said Marianne G. Lynch, Executive Director, A Woman’s Place. 

“VAWA is essential in supporting services for women who are victims of sexual assault and other serious crimes. Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) relies on VAWA funds to provide services including but not limited to forensic nursing services for victims of sexual assault who present in our local hospitals and personal safety education programs to youth in our area schools. VAWA funds are vitally important to NOVA’s mission and work in the community. We stand with Congressman Fitzpatrick in support of this bill”,” said Penny Ettinger, Executive Director of Network of Victim Assistance. 

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 improves current law in several important respects:

  • Enhances and expands victim services;
  • Reauthorizes grant programs to improve the criminal justice response to gender-based violence and expands allowable uses;
  • Invests in prevention;
  • Improves access to housing for victims and survivors;
  • Helps survivors gain and maintain economic independence;
  • Ends impunity for non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands;
  • Supports Communities of Color;
  • Protects victims of dating violence from firearm homicide;
  • Maintains existing protections for all survivors; and
  • Improves the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
  • VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2021 is supported by the National Task Force To End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF), a large and diverse group of national, tribal, state, territorial, and local organizations, advocates, and individuals that focus on the development, passage, and implementation of effective public policy to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.