House and Senate take action toward reauthorization of domestic violence legislation
Over recent weeks, Congress passed different versions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in the U.S. House (H.R. 4970) and Senate (S. 1925). Both bills include APA-supported provisions to reauthorize and strengthen the health care system's identification, assessment and response to violence. Specifically, these provisions extend and consolidate key health programs that:
Integrate treatment and referral for domestic and sexual violence into family planning, adolescent health and home visitation programs.
Support partners, including health professional schools, allied health training programs and national health and trauma-related associations, to develop, implement, evaluate and disseminate education and training curricula to respond to lifetime exposure to violence and abuse.
Provide for research to: evaluate effective interventions within the health care setting to prevent violence and abuse across the life span; address and prevent the physical and mental health effects of such violence; and improve the safety and physical and mental health of individuals that are currently being victimized.
The bill passed by the House did not include comprehensive protections for special populations, including native, immigrant, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survivors.
Throughout this legislative process, APA's Public Interest Government Relations Office advocated for the most comprehensive health provisions and protections for vulnerable populations. During the Senate floor vote in April, APA asked members of its Public Policy Advocacy Network to urge their Senators to support the bill. In advance of the House floor vote in May, APA sent a letter (PDF, 97KB) urging House leadership to support a comprehensive VAWA reauthorization, including essential health care system provisions and protections for vulnerable populations. As the House and Senate prepare to reconcile the two bills in an upcoming conference, APA continues to work individually and with coalition partners in support of a comprehensive VAWA reauthorization that ensures that all survivors of intimate partner violence, including those from vulnerable populations, receive the services and supports necessary for optimal health and well-being.