Violence Against Women Act expires amid shutdown

Amid the government shutdown, the Violence Against Women Act was allowed to expire. 

Enacted back in 1994, the act provides grants that help break the cycle of sexual and domestic violence. It's been renewed and changed several times over the years. 

Most recently it was due to expire on Sept. 30 and on Dec. 7, but received a last-minute reprieve each time. Then, the shutdown happened. 

“For it to expire is frightening, but I have confidence we will get back to where we’ve been,” said Teri McLaughlin, Executive Director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The coalition gives a voice to victims and is among the various domestic violence services, shelters and hotlines, which depend on a portion of funding through the act. It's basically a federal reimbursement program.

McLaughlin says Minnesota is in a much better position compared to some other states. 

“The shutdown is an immediate crisis for any of us because, in Minnesota, we have a strong legislature and state system that says we are going to continue to do this,” she said. 

Prior to the shutdown, the House and Senate passed budget agreements that would cover the costs of VAWA programs through Feb. 8. But, because the act is under the umbrella of the Justice Department, it is now impacted by the government shutdown. 

Just a couple of months after sitting alongside Sen. Amy Klobuchar, working on ways to improve VAWA, McLaughlin says it’s disheartening to see VAWA expire.

“In this era of all the awareness we have right now, we should be moving in the other direction,” she said.

Despite VAWA expiring, services remain available.