Today, the House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Congresswoman Niki Tsongas voted in favor of this much-needed legislation.
Two weeks ago, the Senate overwhelmingly passed this VAWA reauthorization with support from both Republicans and Democrats that will strengthen the ability of the Federal Government, the States, law enforcement, and service providers to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It also includes provisions to ensure that all victims of domestic violence receive the protection they need -- including providing new protections, based on findings from experts in the field, for Native Americans, legal immigrants and members of the LGBT community. The Senate bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 78 to 22 -- with the support of all Democrats, all female Senators and a majority of Senate Republicans.
Instead of immediately bringing the bipartisan Senate bill to the floor of the House for a vote, House Republicans put forth a substitute version earlier today that would have stripped away protections for the LGBT community and drastically reduced protections for Native American women. It also would have eliminated key provisions included in the Senate version that make college campuses safer. This House Republican substitute version was put to a vote and did not pass. The Senate-passed version was then finally voted on and passed with bipartisan support. It will now finally head to the President's desk for his signature.
Congresswoman Tsongas offered the following statement:
"Twice over the last 20 years, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to reauthorize the groundbreaking Violence Against Women Act and make necessary improvements to the law. One in four American women are victims of domestic violence and one in six have survived some form of sexual assault; the lapse in funding for the programs this bill supports has been unnecessary and shameful.
"The Senate has now twice voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize and reinforce VAWA. Today, the House followed that example by striking down the inadequate Republican substitute and passing a comprehensive bill that strengthens domestic violence services for all Americans and does not outwardly deny certain individuals protection and support. Both sides were able to work together across the aisle to pass this important legislation.
"A strong VAWA is necessary in order to protect victims of domestic violence, enable women to escape abusive relationships, and take another step forward for women's rights."