The Senate approved the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization in April with new provisions for LGBT victims, as well as Native Americans and immigrants. The House version passed in May lacked those protections, however, and the chamber failed to pass a reconciled measure by the session’s end.
VAWA provides funds for resources to assist women who have experienced domestic violence and supports efforts such as rape-crisis centers and temporary housing for those affected by domestic violence.
This is the first time the bill has not been reauthorized since its inception in 1994.
Congress will have the chance again this year to reauthorize VAWA. It is unclear if the next reauthorization effort will include the expansion of the protected categories.
“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always come first.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, nearly one in five women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape and 1.3 million women were raped in the last 12 months in America.
A dozen female Senate Democrats last month issued a letter to female Republicans in the House to urge their support for the Senate version of VAWA.
“As mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and women intent on protecting the inclusive and bipartisan history of the Violence Against Women Act, we are reaching out to you to ask for your help. With only a matter of days remaining in the 112th Congress, we are asking that you work with your leadership to take action and finally pass the Senate’s bipartisan VAWA reauthorization. With your leadership on this issue we will resolve this matter in a way that puts the safety of all women ahead of partisan politics.”