House Votes To Reauthorize, Expand Violence Against Women Act

The House voted Wednesday to reauthorize the lapsed Violence Against Women Act, but the proposal was opposed by most Republicans because of provisions dealing with gun rights and LGBTQ victims’ access to services.

The 244-172 vote sent the measure to the Senate for the second time since the law’s authorization lapsed in 2019

First passed in 1994, VAWA enshrines legal protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence. The original bill was championed by then-Sen. Joe Biden, and was reauthorized and updated in 2000, 2005 and 2013.

The House bill would expand victim services and reauthorize for five years grant programs for the criminal justice response to domestic and sexual violence. It also includes provisions that would expand housing options for survivors, and allow tribal jurisdiction over non-Native perpetrators of sexual violence on tribal lands.

The White House Office of Management and Budget released a statement on Wednesday saying that “the administration strongly supports” reauthorizing VAWA.

The OMB statement praised the bill for recognizing “the need to provide protection and services to all victims of abuse and includes proposals to strengthen existing policies that were supported by both Democrats and Republicans last year. The Administration urges swift passage of this legislation.”

In 2019, the bill received support from 33 House Republicans, and the current version is co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Brian Fitzpatrick.

The chamber adopted more than three dozen bipartisan amendments to the bill en bloc in a 228-197 vote. They included funding for document replacement for victims and protecting the immigration status of domestic violence victims.

The measure now heads to the Senate, where bipartisan talks have already started. Democrats would need Republicans to join them to advance any VAWA proposal to reach the 60 votes required to pass most legislation.

Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski is part of the negotiations, focusing especially on provisions related to tribal rights and the specific needs of indigenous communities.

“I think it’s critically important that we advance VAWA,” she said.

 

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