Thursday, February 28, 2013

Finally, VAWA

It was a long time coming. After over a year of ridiculous political wrangling, both houses of Congress have finally passed the Violence Against Women Act. Here's what happened.

After an up-or-down vote, the Violence Against Women Act passed out of the House by a margin of 286-138, with 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans voting in favor of it. The bill had already passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote several weeks ago, meaning that it now heads to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

VAWA was allowed to expire in September, 2011, and then stalled for all of 2012 over expanded protections for LGBT women, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants. House Republicans objected to these additional protections, and repeatedly blocked the bill.

On Thursday, after pressure from Democrats and from within the GOP itself, House Republican leadership allowed the bill to go for an up-or-down vote, after first voting on a Republican version of the bill that did not include the additional protections. That bill was expected to, and did, fail by a vote of 166-257.

In a statement, President Obama said that ”Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear.” [...]

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., [also released a] sentiment:

There is absolutely no reason that it should have taken this long for the House leadership to come around on a bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support. But passage today is a validation of what we’ve been saying since this bill expired in 2011 –VAWA has never been, and should never be, a partisan bill. That is why I applaud moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill.

For the last 18 months, the House G-O-TEA let VAWA die and did nothing to actually bring the bill back to life. Only after feeling intense pressure from women's advocacy groups and a string of high-profile election losses did House Republican leadership finally agree to real VAWA renewal.

Yet even today, a majority of House Republicans voted AGAINST full VAWA renewal. And on top of that, 27 House Republicans voted against both the watered down VAWA that House Republican leadership preferred and the bipartisan Senate version that ultimately passed. Yes, that really happened.

But to their credit, both Reps. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) & Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) ultimately voted for the full VAWA. Heck had originally opposed full VAWA renewal last year. But this year, he finally changed his tune.

It's appalling that it's taken so long to pass a bill that had never been considered "controversial" before. But at least now, it's finally happened. And it provides a glimmer of hope that an end to the "tea party" "War on Women" may finally be within reach.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have a link to the final VAWA version that passed? Another item of political wrangling that seems to be escaping report was adding the TVPA as an amendment to the bill--and a couple different versions of this were proposed. Which one passed?