Thursday, February 28, 2013

Congress Finally Reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act

After nearly a year of partisan infighting on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives and the Senate have finally agreed to send a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to President Obama’s desk.

On Thursday, by a vote of 286 to 138, the House passed the bipartisan Senate-approved version of the bill — one that includes added protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented victims of domestic violence. All 138 votes against the bill were Republicans.

A watered down Republican version of the bill, which was offered as a substitute amendment, failed to garner enough votes to slow the process. It was struck down by a vote of 257 to 166. Sixty Republicans voted against their own party’s replacement measure.

Twenty-seven members of Congress, all Republicans, voted against both versions:

During the last session of Congress, the GOP-led House approved their watered-down VAWA, while the Senate included expanded provisions in the version it passed. The two were never reconciled, and Congress failed to renew the 18-year-old domestic violence law by the time it disbanded at the end of 2012.


Curiously, of the 27 who voted against both versions, 14 actually voted for the House version last time around. A spokeswoman for Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), told ThinkProgress that he objected to the Native American provisions in both versions — provisions not found in the 2012 House version. A spokesman for Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) said that while he supported the principal, he voted against it because the bill did not go through “regular order” and “a better bill could have been produced if it had gone through the committee process.” It is not yet clear what made the other 12 members change their minds: Reps. John Culberson (R-TX), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), John Duncan (R-TN), Steve Fincher (R-TN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Walter Jones (R-NC), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Pete Olson (R-TX), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), David Schweikert (R-AZ), and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

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