Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Tuesday urged the Republican-led House of Representatives to vote on the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The VAWA, originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized twice since, provides funding to local communities to improve their response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The federal grants from the law support police training, victim services, transitional housing, and legal assistance.
Leahy has warned the bill could fail to be reauthorized if the House does not vote on it before the upcoming five-week congressional recess.
“The Senate’s bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act will protect all victims of domestic and sexual violence,” Leahy said. “I remain committed – as I have been since I introduced this bipartisan bill last year – to passing a bill that protects all victims. Time is running out to come together to pass this legislation.”
The Senate approved the Violence Against Women Act by a 68-31 vote in April, with 15 Republicans voting yes. But the Republican-led House has refused to take action on the Senate bill. Instead, House Republicans passed their own version of the bill which omits provisions related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, immigrant and Native women and men.
“We should ensure the Senate-passed lifesaving protections are available to each and every victim,” Leahy continued. “The House Republican leadership made a mistake when it did not take up the bipartisan Senate passed Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization and, instead, insisted on a partisan measure that cuts back on protections for victims.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has named Republicans for a House-Senate conference committee, which would seek to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills. But Democrats insisted a conference committee was unnecessary and that they would refuse to scale-back the bill.
“The House Speaker’s recent announcement naming only Republicans who supported that misguided effort is hardly a step forward,” Leahy said. “Instead, what I wish the Republican House leadership would do is what it refused to do for the last four months, which is to allow the House to take up and consider and vote on the Senate-passed bill.”