Cynthia Dill, Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, today urged Congress to approve the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
She called ongoing delays engineered by House Republicans "outrageous and dangerous, designed only to put women at risk."
"Before the Republican-led House even thinks of leaving Capitol Hill, it should do its job and approve the Senate bill to ensure women's safety," Dill said. "Instead, Republicans seem focused on partisanship, scoring points with conservative voters and packing their bags for the beach. It's an outrage that the Republican Party's priorities are so misguided and misaligned with the working American voter."
The Senate approved VAWA reauthorization in April in a bipartisan, 68-31 vote. Since then, Republican leadership has blocked a companion measure in the House.
The law makes money and resources available to sheriffs and small-town police departments that would otherwise be left unable to investigate or prosecute domestic violence cases. It has wide law enforcement support. The Senate version of the bipartisan bill is supported by more than 1,000 national, state and local victim service organizations.
Dill saluted efforts by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to lead bipartisan reauthorization of the Act, which was strengthened to include provisions for protecting Native American and immigrant women.
"The House needs to take up and pass the Senate version of this important issue," Dill said. "This is no time to play politics with women's safety and to bring "politics as usual' into such serious concerns as domestic violence."
"The GOP-led House continues to show its true colors on the issues of women, working Americans and public safety," Dill said. "Instead of doing the right thing, the GOP-led House can only abide by its party's strictures, which place 1 percent of Americans above the 99 percent of working Americans."
Leahy has called on the House Republican majority to change course and take up the Senate bill, which would ensure critical protections for all victims of domestic and sexual violence.
"I wish the Republican House leadership would do what it should have done four months ago -- take up, debate, and vote on the bipartisan Senate-passed bill," said Leahy. "I have no doubt we could reauthorize this life-saving bill in short order if they would just allow their members a straightforward vote on the merits."
On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden, the original author of the VAWA, wrote about the measure's congressional gridlock in a column for McClatchy-Tribune News Service. "Protecting victims of domestic violence, an issue that has always enjoyed bipartisan support and should be well beyond debate, has become the center of one in Congress," he wrote. "And women across the nation are now at risk."
In 1994, Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act. It established several critical new protections, he said. "First, it provides law enforcement with new tools to prosecute domestic violence crimes and put offenders behind bars. Second, it helps victims find safe places to stay so they don't have to choose between living on the streets or living with someone who is hurting them. And third, it gives women a crisis hotline they can call when they need immediate help.
"We've made a lot of progress as a nation since the act first became law. Annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. The national hotline has answered more than 2 million crisis calls, directing victims to life-saving assistance. But make no mistake, this violence still happens every day."
"On this issue of basic decency, where there remains so much agreement between us, Republicans and Democrats ought to leave politics at the water's edge. Because women everywhere are counting on us, and they can't wait any longer," Biden wrote.