Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) voted against H.R. 4970, a partisan proposal offered by Republican leadership to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA was signed into law in 1994 to strengthen protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. The GOP-sponsored bill considered today by the House of Representatives to reauthorize the law rolls back protections, undermines the confidentiality and privacy of victims of violence, and marginalizes LGBT victims, tribal victims, and immigrant victims. The House approved the bill along a mostly party line vote: 222-205.
"VAWA is a critical tool to ending domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault, said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. "Unfortunately, instead of being serious about the federal reauthorization of VAWA, Republicans are attempting to roll back current law and weaken protections for women. I know from personal experience that domestic violence is not only physical, it is emotional. It is brutal, it is dehumanizing to the batterer and the battered, and without strong and enforceable criminal laws and services, it can shatter and destroy a life."
As a member of the California Legislature, Congresswoman Lee authored the Violence Against Women's Act for the State of California. She authored many pieces of state legislation targeting domestic violence that were signed into law by a Republican Governor, as well as co-sponsoring numerous bills in Congress to support victims of domestic violence and to prevent domestic violence.
On April 26, the Senate approved a version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, S. 1925, which passed with bipartisan support. The approved language was heavily negotiated, carefully considered, and attempts to address some of the unmet needs for LGBT, tribal, and immigrant populations.
"Our colleagues in the Senate recognize the need to modernize and expand protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence," continued Lee. "This is the bill that the House of Representatives should be consider -- not H.R. 4970, which would pose a serious threat to the lives of victims. We cannot afford to play political games with women's lives."
In California, approximately 40% of California women experience physical intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. Of these women, three out of four of them had children under the age of 18 at home.