Newly elected Democrats help reauthorize Violence Against Women Act, pass gun safety measures
Less than 100 days into their time in Congress, Freshmen Democratic Members are already delivering on their commitment to take real action that will keep people in their communities safe.
In addition to advocating for their communities on a local public safety priorities including gun violence prevention, these newly elected Democrats voted last week to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), including expanded protections for women endangered by abusive ex-partners or convicted stalkers. The legislation will protect women from violence and abuse, and provide essential support to victims, survivors and communities to ensure they have the legal tools and resources necessary to prevent further violence, seek justice, and receive care.
“This new class of Freshman Democrats is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep their communities safe, and their first 100 days in Congress proves it,” said DCCC Spokesperson Jared Smith. “Whether they’re making sure victims of domestic abuse have the resources they need or passing legislation to reduce the scourge of gun violence, families across the country know that their new Democratic Representatives will always have their backs.”
Here’s just a few of the ways Democratic Freshmen have pushed to make our county safer for all Americans:
By Matthew Daly
The House voted Thursday to reauthorize a 25-year-old law that helps victims of domestic and sexual violence, despite complaints by Republicans that Democrats were politicizing the popular law by expanding gun control.
The bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act includes a provision making it easier to take away guns from violent offenders even if they are not a spouse or domestic partner. The amendment closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by barring those convicted of abusing, assaulting or stalking a current or former dating partner from owning a firearm.
Supporters said the measure was crucial to protect women in the United States, who die from gun violence at rates far higher than other high-income countries.
By Katherine Tully-McManus
The Violence Against Women Act is back on the House agenda, with Democrats and at least one Republican leading a fresh effort to reauthorize and expand the domestic violence law.
…The protections and programs under VAWA lapsed during the monthlong partial government shutdown, but were reinstated in January’s short-term deal to end the spending impasse. An extension was not included in the longer deal struck last month that runs through the end of the fiscal year.
At an event celebrating the bill’s introduction, freshman Rep. Katie Porter gave emotional testimony about surviving domestic violence, as she described two vastly different experiences she had with law enforcement.
…“That is what this legislation is about. It’s about making sure when men and women and children around this country call for help, those that arrive on the scene know what to do and are willing to do it,” she said.
By Tamar Hallerman
As her colleagues prepared to vote Wednesday on legislation requiring federal background checks for firearms sales and transfers, U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath darted on and off the House floor.
…The chamber’s passage of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act was nearly seven years in the making for McBath, who pulled off Georgia’s biggest upset win last fall when she defeated incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel in the 6th Congressional District.
McBath first got involved in politics after her teenage son Jordan Davis was fatally shot in a 2012 dispute. She lobbied for gun control legislation across the country as a surrogate for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, groups that became deeply invested in her congressional race, which she entered after last year’s mass shootings in Parkland, Fla.
The background checks bill, which passed the House with the support of eight Republicans and all but two Democrats, was the first legislation McBath signed onto as a new member of Congress. She helped push it through the House Judiciary Committee and worked to block Republicans amendments that she worried would “devalue” the bill.
By Ryan Matheny
The U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment from Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne Thursday that would increase funding to combat violent crimes against women.
Axne offered the amendment to the Violence Against Women Act, which is up for re-authorization in the House this week. Axne’s amendment would increase funding for STOP Grants from $40 million to $60 million. Speaking on the House floor, Axne says STOP Grants are a vital tool for local law enforcement and prosecutors.
“I’ve met with local police officers and sheriffs throughout my district,” said Axne. “They all tell me that they are under-resourced and understaffed. I promised them that I would do anything in my power to make sure they get what they need to protect our communities. STOP Grants also provide prosecutors with the proper tools and resources they need to get justice for survivors and prosecute those who commit violence against women.”
By Megan Jones
A new bill that would require a national mandatory three-day waiting period when buying a gun could help save lives from gun violence and suicide, a Harvard Business School professor said at a roundtable discussion on gun safety in Aurora.
The study, authored by Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra, Michael Luca and Christopher Poliquin, found that handgun waiting periods reduce gun homicides by 17% and gun suicides by 10%.
…Nearly 100 people attended the roundtable event at the Prisco Community Center in Aurora Friday that was co-hosted by Foster, Krishnamoorthi and also featured U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain and Malhotra.
…“It’s important to have events because it shows the divide that exists on this issue and why it’s important to talk to each other,” Casten said.
By Chris Haxel
On Wednesday, Democrat Sharice Davids advocated for the bill in a brief speech on the House floor.
“Like most Kansans, I respect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” she said. “But also like most Kansans, I’m tired of politicians doing nothing to stop senseless killings.”
Davids also pushed for an amendment to the bill which would make it easier for domestic violence victims to forego required background checks in emergency situations.
“We can’t forget the needs of those at risk of domestic violence to protect themselves from abuse,” she said.
By Jonathan Salant
Before she became the first Democrat to win her New Jersey House seat in 34 years, Rep. Mikie Sherrill was asked why she decided that the first bill she would co-sponsor would expand background checks for gun purchases.
“I said I would just love to see a universal background checks bill,” Sherrill, D-11th Dist., said Wednesday. “This is something that’s so core to what we need in this country, something the government has to handle.”
That measure passed the House on Wednesday, the first gun control bill voted on by the chamber in a quarter century, by 240-190. It would to provide universal background checks for all gun purchases, including those over the internet and at gun shows.
By Ashley Luck
Two days after 19-year-old College of William and Mary student and football player Nate Evans was shot to death in Norfolk, members of the community, local and state officials joined forces in Williamsburg for a march to end gun violence.
…During her rally speech, Luria said there needs to be a stop to senseless gun violence in communities.
Luria said she co-sponsored House Resolution 8, also known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which establishes universal background checks for gun purchases and new requirements for transfers between private parties, which is now headed to the Senate for approval.
…“We are hearing you in Washington. Please keep pushing and we will continue to support your efforts,” Luria said.
By Melissa Jenco
Dr. Schrier already has signed on to co-sponsor legislation requiring universal background checks for gun ownership and said she hopes to work on additional legislation to use technology to help keep guns out of the hands of young children.
“It’s harder to get into my iPhone than it is to get a gun for kids,” she said. “And when we have an average age of accidental shooting in children being 3, it wouldn’t take a ton of brain power or technology to make sure those guns are owned safely.”
By Rob Nikolewski
A group of 15 Democrats on Capitol Hill have requested Congress spend $25 million to support the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a consolidated interim storage program aimed at finding a place to send used fuel from nuclear power plants that no longer generate electricity, such as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, joined two other members of the House in drafting and circulating a letter that was presented Monday to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, urging the approval of the funding request.
“We’re committed to finding a path forward,” Levin told the Union-Tribune in a brief interview in between votes at the U.S. Capitol.
For decades, the federal government has failed to find a permanent site to store the highly radioactive used fuel from nuclear plants across the country.