Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) today opposed an effort by the House Majority to reduce protections in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). For decades VAWA has benefitted from bipartisan support, but the bill put forward by House Republicans today rolls back decades of progress on improving protections for victims of domestic violence.
"The GOP is playing politics with women's lives. Every victim of domestic violence should have access to help, regardless of who committed the assault or where they live," Himes said. "Instead of improving the law to match our evolving understanding of how to prevent domestic violence, this bill eliminates protections we have fought for decades to achieve."
The reauthorization of VAWA House Republicans passed today repeals or weakens critical protections, especially those that keep survivors of domestic and sexual violence safe. The legislation could discourage immigrants who are here legally from seeking protection from their abusers and delay or deny protection to many who do seek help. The bill neglects to include a provision that would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims in VAWA grant programs and fails to protect Native American victims from attacks by people outside of their tribe's jurisdiction. Last week, the Senate passed a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that passed with broad bipartisan support. That version preserves and expands protections for all victims of domestic violence, including those who are tribal, LGBT, and immigrants.
Since 1994, VAWA has helped protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable. Until now, VAWA has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, and according to the Department of Justice, domestic violence has dropped by more than half since the law was enacted.
In November, Himes praised the work of several local organizations that work to help victims of domestic violence. Watch that floor speech here.
This bill is opposed by over 300 organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Break the Cycle, Legal Momentum, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, YWCA USA, AAUW, Business and Professional Women's Foundation, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Bar Association, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Human Rights Campaign, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and National Congress of American Indians.