Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced legislation on Tuesday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
"This life-saving legislation should be a top priority of the new 113th Congress,” Leahy said in a statement. “It is our hope that the Senate will act quickly to pass this strong, bipartisan bill to help all victims of domestic and sexual violence.”
The VAWA, first passed in 1994, seeks to aid women who are the victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Though the Senate passed legislation to reauthorize the VAWA with bipartisan support last year, the bill encountered opposition from House Republicans over the addition of protections for immigrants, Native Americans, and members of the LGBT community.
House Republicans passed their own water-down version of the bill and allowed the VAWA reauthorization to die at the end of the 112th Congress.
The latest VAWA reauthorization includes the SAFER Act, according to Leahy. The provision is aimed at reducing the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases.
However, in a move that could upset women's right advocates and others, the latest VAWA reauthorization does not allow more abused undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas. Republicans had opposed the VAWA last year because of the provision, saying that allowing more visas for abused immigrants would result in fraud.
“In the interest of making quick and decisive progress, we introduce the bill today without that provision in order to remove any excuse for House inaction,” Leahy said. “We have retained other important improvements for immigrant victims in the bill we introduce today as part of our commitment to ensuring that all victims are protected.”
[Domestic violence victim via Shutterstock]