HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito attended an important Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Tuesday about funding domestic violence resources.

The Violence Against Women Act, or ‘VAWA,’ originally passed in 1994 and created the first U.S. federal legislation which acknowledged the criminality of sexual assault and domestic violence—according to the National Network To End Domestic Violence.

“A game-changing, bipartisan piece of legislation that has provided life-saving assistance to women across America for nearly three decades,” says Senator Dick Durbin, (D-IL).

On March 17th, the House renewed VAWA. Now, this hearing is discussing whether to reauthorize the act in the Senate.

“Like the house-passed bill, our legislation will modernize and improve this vital law and won’t rollback the progress that we’ve made,” Senator Durbin says.

Efforts include improving access to services for survivors in rural areas, like in West Virginia, among many other important considerations.

Senator Capito spoke on the important work VAWA does. She also shared concerns about the reauthorization unique to the Mountain State.

“My state of West Virginia, while we have great challenges, I want to make sure we are accorded sufficient priority under existing statutory funding. As the only state that lost population, the population-based metrics are not helpful to meet those demands. One of my concern is that VAWA formulas may require updating to better reflect the needs of our nations rural populations,” Senator Capito says.

Senator Capito also brought up concern for service providers who are struggling to stay afloat after the pandemic.

A representative from local domestic violence shelter, ‘Branches,’ —located in Huntington—says it benefits from VAWA funding.

“We absolutely depend on it to provide a lot of services in our community. VAWA is actually paying for services like court advocacy, and for the ability of law enforcement to service protective orders and for literally the ability to prosecute domestic violence and sexual assault crimes,” says Sara Blevins, director of development of Branches.

The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says they hope to quickly introduce the bill.