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February 27, 2013 at 6:00 AM

U.S. House should vote on Senate’s version of Violence Against Women Act

Congress is finally on track toward reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Wednesday’s Seattle Times editorial calls on House GOP leaders, including U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., to give their fellow members the opportunity to vote for the Senate’s bipartisan framework.

According to Politico and Roll Call,  House Republican leaders instead have set up a deal where they’ll first send their watered-down version of the bill to the floor. If it fails, they’ll put the Senate’s more inclusive S. 47 up for a vote.

S.47 passed the upper chamber Feb. 12 by a wide margin, 78 to 22. President Barack Obama favors it. A growing number of Republicans (including U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.), have urged their leadership to move toward passage. It’s a shame GOP leaders won’t just send the Senate bill to the floor, but if this is what compromise looks like in a hyper-partisan Congress — I’ll give it a chance to work out.

Tuesday evening, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray released the following statement:

“We are on the cusp of a huge victory for every single woman who has been told over the past 16 months that they didn’t deserve VAWA protections. I applaud those moderate Republicans in the House who are ready to put politics aside and help us get this over the finish line. I know that the broad coalition of women and advocates who I’ve worked with over the course of this long effort have their fingers crossed and will be watching closely.”

Earlier in the day, Murray spoke out on the floor about the importance of convincing the House to take up the Senate’s bill. Watch the video below.

The Seattle Times editorial board criticized Congress last December for allowing VAWA to expire. Our position reflected support for protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims. We also highlighted the plight of Native American women and the need to allow tribes to prosecute non-Native American perpetrators who’ve been committing crimes on their land with impunity.

In January, we wrote another opinion prodding Congress to protect VAWA before sequestration and immigration issues come to the fore.

What’s the difference between the two versions? The House bill creates extra barriers for victims seeking justice and does less to prevent domestic and sexual violence. Their amended version of VAWA strips away the Senate’s protections for LGBT victims, scales back jurisdiction rights for Native women, removes stalking from the list of crimes for which illegal immigrant women can seek U visas, and doesn’t fund programs to prevent abuse on college campuses.

According to the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, more than 67,000 victims rely each day on receiving help with emergency shelter, transitional housing, and counseling. Advocates say many more are turned away from services because they don’t meet federal criteria for protection.

The Violence Against Women Act has been reauthorized twice without controversy. Both times, the law has been changed to better reflect the changing needs of victims and input from law enforcement officials who respond to domestic violence incidents.

Expect a social media blitz encouraging lawmakers to pass VAWA. Emotions are high. There’s no excuse for rape and abuse.

House Republicans should support the Senate’s bipartisan bill or prepare for an onslaught of rhetoric — right or not — they are the “anti-woman” party.

0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: congress, democrats, domestic violence

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