January 3, 2013
For the first time in the legislation's 18-year existence, Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, leaving many unanswered questions for a Charlottesville organization.
The act has been a funding source for the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, which provides services and support to the community.
Executive director Rebecca Weybright called the act a landmark piece of legislation. She said she's disappointed Congress didn't make a vote on the authorization of the bill a priority.
"It really has sought to bring together responses with the criminal justice system and with the community," Weybright said. "It's done a lot of important work over the years."
House Republicans did not advance the Senate's version of the bill, which aimed at expanding protections to a group of 30 million people.
"Because sexual violence can touch most anyone, it is important to try and cover as many aspects as possible," said Weybright.
What this means for shelters and other outreach programs like SARA is still up in the air. Weybright said she hasn't heard any word about how it could impact local resources.
But even with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the bill, Weybright remains optimistic that Congress will come around in 2013.
"Over the 18 years the Violence Against Women Act has been in effect, it has enjoyed bipartisan support," Weybright said. "I do feel confident that that bipartisan support will reintroduce the act."