U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) announced today that he has cosponsored H.R. 4271, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012. H.R. 4271 is the House companion to S. 1925, the bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that passed in the Senate last month by a 68 to 31 vote, including 15 Senate Republicans. The Senate legislation includes key improvements to protect Native American women and children, and the LGBT community.
"For almost two decades, VAWA has protected women and children from abuse, helped domestic and sexual assault victims escape horrendous situations and provided life-saving support for victims of violence," said Rep. Heinrich. "VAWA is the single most effective federal effort to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The new Senate provisions that provide additional protections for Native American women and children, and the LGBT community, are fundamentally important to ensure that all victims are protected."
"On behalf of the 27 domestic violence programs we represent, and the countless number of victims they serve, the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence commends Congressman Heinrich on co-sponsoring HR 4271," said Daniel Manzano, Policy Director, New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "This version of VAWA keeps the appropriate protections in place to keep New Mexicans safe."
Historically, VAWA has been easily reauthorized in Congress with broad, bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the Tea Party House Republicans are blocking the bipartisan, Senate-passed measure, and are forcing a vote later today on their bill, H.R. 4970, which fails to include many of the protections in the Senate bill and weakens current protections, including those for battered immigrant spouses.
"It's disgusting that the House Republicans would intentionally choose to protect some groups of women but not others," said Rep. Heinrich. "All victims of domestic and sexual violence should be protected but the Republicans' plan excludes stronger VAWA protections for Native Americans and the LGBT community, and makes all women less safe."
The Republican legislation does not incorporate provisions to address the needs of tribal victims and those who are denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It includes provisions that create obstacles for immigrant victims to report crimes, and eliminates confidentiality protections that protect immigrant women and their families. Further, the Republican legislation does not continue the tradition of improvement; instead it rolls back years of progress and bipartisan improvement that decreases the number of victims each year.
Rep. Heinrich will be voting against H.R. 4970 when it comes to the floor for a vote later today.
More than 300 organizations oppose the House Republican bill, including the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Congress of American Indians, National Council of La Raza, National Organization for Women, NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Bar Association, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jewish Council for Public Affairs and AAUW.