The Violence Against Women Act has been around since 1994. It provides funds to crisis centers and emergency responders to help survivors of domestic violence. Every five years--Congress has to re-authorize funding it.
Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill, Senate members voted on several amendments to act. Last year, that branch passed the measure but the Republican-controlled House blocked it. Senator Kay Hagan describes this action as needless politicking gamesmanship. According to Senator Hagan, some changes have been made that she hopes will move this measure through Congress.
"One provision has to do with domestic violence on Indian Reservations. Currently, if a woman is rapped on a reservation, the federal court handles the case. So the bill will allow local jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute a rapist or someone who's committed domestic violence on the reservation. And there's an addition called the Shaffer Act, very similar to what I did when I was in the state senate. When a woman was raped, she'd go to the hospital, a DNA analysis was taken in a rape kit. And unless the woman could identify who assaulted her that untested kit would sit on the shelves in police departments, sheriff's department for years; typically because there were no funds to do the analysis."
U.S. Senate members are expected to vote on final passage early next week.