House Approves Renewal of Violence Against Women Act
Last Thursday, the House gave its final approval to renew the Violence Against Women Act. This will send the bipartisan Senate measure to President Barack Obama after the House plan endorsed by the Republicans was defeated.
The measure passed on a vote of 286 to 138 that is composed of 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans supporting the reauthorization of the 1994 law that helps victims of domestic and sexual violence. It is seen as a major victory for the president and Democrats in Congress. They have criticized Republicans for stalling the bill.
The measure passed successfully in the Senate last month with 78 votes that included all of women, Democrats, and over half of Republicans. The alternative measure unveiled by the House last Friday was criticized by the Democrats and women’s and human rights organizations for failing to include protections found in the Senate bill for gay, transgender and bisexual victims of domestic abuse.
The House bill removed sexual orientation and gender identity from a list of populations that face barriers to receiving victim services. It also removed provisions connected to American Indian women on reservations.
Congressional Republicans were divided on the measure and its leadership agreed that it would allow a vote on the Senate bill if the House version failed to get the significant number of votes. It failed on a vote of 257 to 166 with 60 Republicans joining 197 Democrats opposing the bill. 164 Republicans and 2 Democrats were in favor for the House bill.
The newly passed measure expands federal programs to help local communities with law enforcement and aiding victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The bill protects gay, bisexual, or transgender victims of domestic abuse and allows American Indian women who are assaulted on reservations by non-Indians to file their case at tribal courts. This was also part of the failed House measure but gave non-Indian defendants to take their case to a federal court.