Begich Votes to Pass Violence Against Women Act
Also Introduces Bill to Expand Services to Veterans Fleeing Domestic Violence
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today voted to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), continuing his efforts to combat violence against its women, children, and families.
Begich is an original co-sponsor of VAWA, which will strengthen protections under law for victims of domestic and sexual abuse and expand support programs for those victims.
“It’s not every day we can say that what we do here saves lives, but today we can. I’m glad the Senate pulled together to reauthorize this life-saving legislation, which will go a long way in protecting and supporting thousands of Alaskans,” said Begich.
The VAWA bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 78-22. It now goes to the U.S. House, which refused to take up a similar Senate-passed bill last year.
Following the vote, Begich, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to remedy a loophole that denies veterans who are escaping life-threatening situations access to critical support programs. After speaking with numerous of Alaska veterans and meeting with the Alaska VA, Begich is leading the charge to answer their calls for assistance for our former servicemen and women.
“There are still too many existing holes in our legal system that undermine the safety of women, children, and families, and in too many cases - our veterans. To coincide with the passage of VAWA I’ve introduced a bill today to ensure that vets who are the victims of assault have access to the full range of services provided to every other American.”
Begich’s bill would expand the definition of “homeless veteran” to include veterans fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking so they are able to qualify for assistance from the VA under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
The definition of homelessness was updated in the 2009 Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act to cover people who escaped domestic violence. However, the definition of “homeless veteran” was not updated to reflect this change.