Obama signs update to Violence Against Women Act - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Obama signs update to Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON D.C. (WVVA)--- President Obama signed a bill into law today that updated the Violence Against Women Act.

The President was surrounded by domestic violence survivors, law officers and tribal leaders during the ceremony at the interior department.

The law extends support to the L-G-B-T community, Native Americans, immigrants and college students.

It provides training for judges and law officers.

The original bill passed in 1994, but expired in 2011.

After a year of partisan debate on how to expand it, Congress finally agreed last month, and the President signed it into law Thursday.

In his remarks, Obama said all women have the right to live free of fear, and that is what today is all about.

The loudest applause came when Obama talked about how the law protects Native American women on tribal lands.

The crowd also roared for Vice President Joe Biden, who as a senator, wrote and sponsored the original bill.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller released the following statement on the bill's signing:

"Today, I join West Virginians everywhere in cheering the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act," Rockefeller said. "This is truly a great day for survivors of abuse—and for all those who are fighting against it. The voices of our advocates in West Virginia on behalf of VAWA were loud and strong – and absolutely helped lead us to this moment. I'm happy that we were – finally – able to update and improve important VAWA programs and make sure resources continue to be available for people who need help. No one should have to live in fear of domestic violence or sexual assault."

VAWA programs provided West Virginia with more than $3.9 million last year for enforcement and victims' services. The Violence Against Women Act was the first major federal initiative to address domestic violence and related crimes when it was originally passed in 1994. Rockefeller was an original co-sponsor of VAWA and its reauthorization in 2000, 2005 and again this year. The nation's first federal case prosecuted under VAWA was in West Virginia.
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