The House passed the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday by a 286-138 vote after a weaker, Republican version failed to win a majority.
Back in April, the Senate passed a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which since 1994 has provided funding and training for state and local law enforcement to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. The law has worked incredibly well: between 1993 and 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence fell by 64 percent and the reporting of domestic violence has increased dramatically. Because of this, it has been reauthorized twice with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans.
But at the start of this year, the act expired because House Republicans refused to reauthorize it. They refused even to hold a vote on it, instead proposing a watered-down bill that the president promised to veto. What they objected to were the new bill’s increased protections for immigrants, LGBT people, and Native American women.
Yes, they objected to greater protections for at-risk communities.
Lisa Brush, sociology professor and author of Poverty, Battered Women, and Work in U.S. Public Policy, called the House Republicans' objections to cover these groups "an unconscionable instance of discrimination against some of the most vulnerable people in the country."
But this "watered-down" House Republican version was voted down Thursday, as CNN reports:
By a vote of 166-257, the GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act failed to win a majority after almost 90 minutes of debate. The House then voted 286-138 to pass the Senate version, with 87 Republicans joining all 199 Democrats to provide majority support.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA-7) was among the 138 voting against the Senate version.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) celebrated the House re-authorization of the act which "will expand protections for women and their families who are the subjects of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault," and continued:
Today, we listened to the victims of domestic abuse and their advocates and passed the bipartisan Senate legislation so that women and victims don't have to wait any longer for protections. I applaud those who fought so hard for this victory. Yet, tomorrow, with sequestration on the horizon, victims are scheduled to lose $29 million, which will reduce services for those in desperate need. We made progress today but we must continue to fight for adequate funding. And we must continue to fight to make sure that undocumented immigrant women are able to report abuse without fear of deportation so that they can protect themselves and their children by stopping abuse. I will continue to push to end violence against women – no matter where and how it occurs.
The legislation now heads to President Obama, who has said he would sign it.