The current term of Congress ended on Wednesday without re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a nearly two-decade-old measure to aid victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Though the Senate approved the VAWA last year with bipartisan support, Republicans in the U.S. House had opposed the legislation because it added new protections for illegal immigrants, LGBT individuals, and Native Americans.
“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable,” Sen. Patty Murray said in a statement to The Maddow Blog. “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 comes first.”
Rather than vote on the Senate version of the VAWA, House Republicans passed their own watered-down version of the bill that omitted the new provisions. The White House warned it would veto the House bill, which was opposed by groups like the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the American Bar Association, and others because it ignored vulnerable populations.
Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) were reportedly in last-minute talks to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills, but nothing materialized before the legislative session ended.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who co-authored the VAWA along with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), said last month he would re-introduce the legislation in the next Congress.
“We will continue our discussions, and we will work tirelessly to have a good bill enacted into law. This is not the end of our efforts to renew and improve VAWA to more effectively help all victims of domestic and sexual violence,” Leahy said.
“We have seen enough violence. If we cannot get the Leahy-Crapo bill over the finish line this year, we will come back next year, and we will get it done.”