Category Archives: domestic violence

USA VAWA Suspended

There has been some excitement recently about the demise of VAWA in the USA. The celebrations may be premature, though the formal situation at present is that VAWA is no longer in force in the USA.

The Violence Against Women Act in the USA is not a permanent statute. It was first signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1994 (having been introduced by Senator Joe Biden in 1990). But it periodically requires reauthorisation by the US Government. It was required to be, and was, reauthorised in 2000 and 2005, with some additional tweaks. It next came up for reauthorisation in 2012, but the proposed extensions to the Act were contentious and the Act formally expired with the adjournment of the 112th Congress in 2012. President Obama reauthorised the Act in 2013.

VAWA’s next expiry date was 30 September 2018, but it was given a temporary stay of execution initially to 7th December 2018. As that date approached, a further extension to 21st December was authorised. (Some sources say that funding was actually authorised to 8th February 2019).

However, at that point – if my understanding is correct – further decisions on potential reauthorisations were overtaken by events, namely the US Government shutdown. The formal position, therefore, is that VAWA has passed its authorisation date and is not currently legally in force.

Government monies are not currently forthcoming generally, due to the shutdown, and this includes funding under VAWA. Anything authorised will, I presume, receive back-payment when the shutdown ends, and this may include VAWA up to (perhaps) 8th February 2019. Further funding, and any resurrection of the Act itself to reinstate it as law, will depend upon future rulings in Congress.

Much has been made in the “liberal” press about those Republicans who voted against the reauthorisation of VAWA in 2013 also being the very same men who voted for the inauguration of Brett Kavanaugh onto the US Supreme Court. It is possible that the Blasey Ford affair has further hardened opinion amongst Republicans on VAWA.

But the Act has been suspended before, and shortly thereafter resuscitated. We can expect extremely energetic drives by the usual suspects to re-establish VAWA once the US Government is back in business.