O’Halleran Takes Two Votes to Uphold Women’s Equality, Ensure Protections for Survivors
WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) voted to pass H.R. 1620 and H.J.Res. 17, two historic pieces of legislation paramount to gender equality and safety in the United States: a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and a joint resolution to remove an arbitrary time limit previously set by Congress for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Both measures passed with bipartisan support.
VAWA is landmark, bipartisan legislation, passed initially in 1994, to ensure protections and invest in services for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The ERA is a constitutional amendment, originally passed by Congress in 1972, affirming gender equality by explicitly prohibiting against sex-based discrimination in our nation’s foundational document.
“Few things have shaped my life more than the thirteen years I served as a police officer, and the memories that keep me awake at night are the domestic violence and sexual assault cases I worked—especially when children were involved,” said O’Halleran. “Today, I joined my colleagues in voting for a full reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This authorization will fund resources like rape crisis centers, hotlines, tools for law enforcement, and legal services and housing for survivors.”
Between 2016 and 2018 alone, VAWA funded training for over 12,923 sexual assault nurses and forensic examiners, 91,074 law enforcement officers, and 18,909 court personnel. Funding for grants and programs under VAWA expired in 2019 when the Senate failed to take up the House’s passed reauthorization.
“As a Congress, we have an obligation to address the shadow pandemic of domestic violence that has grown cruelly in the last year, with countless women and children spending more time at home with abusers,” continued O’Halleran. “Put simply, VAWA is a life-saving bill. I urge the Senate to take up and pass our legislation without delay.”
Today’s VAWA reauthorization also includes provisions outlined in O’Halleran’s 116th Congress Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act that expands tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of sexual violence and assault.
“The economic pitfalls of this pandemic have shown us all just how quickly our society can regress into unequal opportunity based on gender,” continued O’Halleran. “Jobs held by women account for an overwhelming number of those lost over the past year. Today, I was also proud to vote in favor of H.J.Res 17 to assure women in the United States have legal protections to combat the everyday discrimination they face, including unequal pay, pregnancy and maternal health discrimination, and sexual and domestic violence.”
The bipartisan H.J.Res 17 strikes an arbitrary timeline previously set by Congress for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. After Congress passed the ERA in 1972, 35 states ratified the amendment before the original 1979 deadline – just three states short of the three-fourths needed. Since then, three additional states have voted to ratify the amendment, making the provision eligible for addition to the Constitution if the timeline is removed.
In December, the American economy lost 140,000 jobs, all of them held by women.
O’Halleran is a member of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence and the Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence.
O’Halleran pictured in an ERA YES pin, February 2020.