All but one member of Washington’s congressional delegation voted Thursday to pass the U.S. Senate’s version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Bravo! We just witnessed a rare and welcome display of bipartisanship on an issue that has divided the political parties for months.
House GOP leadership’s amended version of VAWA failed before lawmakers passed S. 47, a more inclusive version of the re-authorization bill that previously received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. (Check out this news story by Seattle Times reporter Kyung Song.)
Who voted for VAWA: U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, Jaime Herrera-Beutler, R-Vancouver, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, Denny Heck, D-Olympia
Who voted against VAWA: U.S. Rep. Richard “Doc” Hastings, R-Pasco “To be blunt, the bill that passed today is simply unconstitutional. It violates Constitutional rights of individuals and would, for the first time ever, proclaim Indian tribes’ ‘inherent’ authority to exercise criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian citizens. The Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that tribes do not have this authority.” (Read his full statement.)
Bonus points for tenacity go to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who worked tirelessly over the last year to keep VAWA alive. See her staff’s timeline below.
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U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell also praised the final vote, which will now extend VAWA protections to LGBT victims and Native American women within the state’s 29 federally-recognized tribes.
“Today Congress is sending the President a bill to better protect all victims of domestic violence in America. We are sending a clear message to domestic violence victims that you are not alone — no matter who you are, where you’re from or where you live. I’m also pleased that this bill takes substantial steps forward to assist victims of human trafficking, with the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
“This bill will help us confront the epidemic of abuse that occurs on Tribal reservations, with Native women facing assault at 2.5 times the national average. By closing gaps in the legal system for prosecuting domestic violence on Tribal reservations, we are making it clear that no matter where crimes against women take place, perpetrators will not escape accountability. Because of our bipartisan effort, nearly 500,000 women in Indian Country will get the better protection they deserve.”
DelBene, one of the successful bill’s co-sponsors, spoke on the floor Thursday morning.
McMorris Rodgers was assigned to take the lead on the House’s amended legislation. The fourth highest-ranking GOP member voted for the Senate’s measure, anyway. She made the right choice.