The Senate passed its Violence Against Women Act re-authorization bill on Tuesday.
Seventeen House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor last night, begging the GOP to make up for last session and quickly reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
What is VAWA?
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of legislation that sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States. The original passage of VAWA in 1994 has changed the landscape for victims who once suffered in silence.
Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking have been able to access services, and a new generation of families and justice system professionals has come to understand that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking are crimes that our society will not tolerate.
The 78-22 Senate vote to reauthorize the two-decade-old act that has shielded millions of women from abuse and helped reduce national rates of domestic violence turns the focus to the House, where Republican leaders are working to come up with their own version.
Ohio Republican Representative Tom Cole, who has been leading negotiations, summed it up nicely, reports the New York Times:
“Let’s just talk politics here. This will have passed the Senate. The president’s for it. And we’re holding up a domestic violence bill that should be routine because you don’t want to help Native women who are the most vulnerable over a philosophical point?”
The act expired in 2011, putting efforts to improve its many federal programs on hold. Last year both the Republican-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate passed renewal bills, but they were unable to reach a compromise.