The bill had easily cleared the Senate with bipartisan support two weeks ago. President Obama noted that VAWA was "an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear," and added, "I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk." That happened on Thursday.
With broad support from various advocacy groups (the battered women's movement, sexual assault and victim services providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, the courts, and the lawyers' bar), Vice-President Joe Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act (Pub.L. 103–322) as Senator from Delaware in 1994. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) was the bill's original author. Congress reauthorized it in 2000, and again in December 2005.
The law expired in 2011. While it was up for reauthorization, the debate became political. The two houses of Congress could not agree on extending its benefits to all victims of domestic violence, including LGBT individuals, affected immigrants, and Native American women.
Before approving the Senate's broader version of the law Thursday, the House soundly rejected majority leader Eric Cantor's painstaking but noninclusive proposal by a vote of 257-166. Sixty Republicans voted against it.
Now that VAWA has been ratified, agencies can again aid Americans who are affected by domestic abuse. It will also be possible to prosecute their abusers.
Based in Chicago, Sandy Dechert has been covering women's health for Examiner.com since the webzine's official startup. She followed the creation and progress of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Sandy has also reported on the 2012-2013 influenza epidemic, top women's health news of 2012, and the fungal meningitis outbreaks.
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