Bush Signs Violence Against Women Act Into Law

At a private ceremony in the Oval Office on Thursday, January 5 that included congressional champions, President Bush signed the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 into law. "Our homes and communities will be safer and healthier as a result," Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler said.

"We commend Congress for passing this critical legislation, and the President for signing it so promptly," she added. "It can significantly improve the nation’s response to domestic, sexual and dating violence, and stalking."

The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 contains groundbreaking initiatives to help children exposed to violence, train health care providers to support victims of abuse, encourage men to teach the next generation that violence is wrong, and provide crisis services for victims of rape and sexual assault. H.R. 3402 is part of the Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005. It also continues efforts to improve the law enforcement response to violence against women and provide supportive services, such as transitional housing, to women and children forced to leave their homes because of violence.

"We urgently need Congress to fully fund all the programs this law contains," Soler concluded. "Only if we do that will we be able to say that our nation is doing all it can to stop domestic and sexual violence, and help victims."

Among those attending the signing ceremony were First Lady Laura Bush, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Representatives Mark Green (R-WI), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Hilda Solis (D-CA). "This law supports programs that have been successful in combating domestic violence and changing attitudes toward violence in the family in America," Sensenbrenner said.

“This is a comprehensive law that strikes the right balance between rejuvenating core programs, making targeted improvements and responsibly expanding the Violence Against Women Act to reach the needs of America’s families,” said Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) in a statement. “The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 provides cities and towns with the tools they need to combat domestic violence, assist victims and go after abusers when it occurs.”

This "is a critical step and a national commitment to keep women and children safe from fear and abuse," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "We can and must do more to intervene and prevent violence before it starts and harms generations of families and communities."

First passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was the first federal law to comprehensively address violence against women. It was re-authorized in 2000, continuing the essential work begun earlier and adding important services for immigrant, rural, disabled and older women.

The new re-authorization will expand and extend the law for five years, with funding appropriated at approximately $3.9 billion. Congress must determine actual authorization levels each year, however, and does not always fund programs at the levels in the appropriation.

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