The U.S. Senate will vote to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act this week. As of Thursday, the bill has the support of 60 senators which is enough to avoid a potential Republican filibuster. Tweet
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), co-author of the bill, released the news on his Twitter account:
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), introduced in 1994, has been used to increase the accountability of perpetrators of crimes against women as well as providing victims of these crimes with the services they need to recover. This act has been a central element in the protection of women over the last two decades. Tweet quote: Tweet
Congress has never failed to re-authorize the law until last year after it died in the U.S. House. The proposed bill, voted on by the Senate in April 2012, passed the camber with a bi-partisan supermajority (68-31) only to be blocked by House Republicans several times. No agreement was made before the end of the congressional session.
Republican opposition to extending VAWA was a failure to extend federal protections to 30 million more women, including LGBT women, Native American women living in tribal lands, and immigrants. Most of these extensions were opposed for political reasons, but the increase of U-Visas available to undocumented migrants who have been victims of sexual and domestic abuse received objections on procedural grounds.
The fees that come with the U-Visa would raise revenues and such fiscal legislation must start in the House. Even if, in theory, there was a way to get around this rule, some House Republicans said that this provision "is good enough for us to object to the whole thing."
The new Leahy-Crapo VAWA reauthorization bill removed this controversial provision and is likely to receive enough bi-partisan support to clear the Senate floor later this week. The fate of life-saving services and counseling for millions of women will then be in the hands of House Republicans.
The 113th Congress has already made history by being the most diverse and having the highest number of women members ever. Hopefully, this change will favor the protection of women's rights over the usual partisan discord. Spread the news: Tweet