By Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation provides assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence and stiffens penalties for domestic violence crimes.
In 2005, I voted for reauthorization of this important policy. We should, by all means, seek to prevent violence and aggression targeting women while providing adequate means of community support for victims. A week ago Friday, two measures to again extend the act were presented before the House. One -- the House version -- renewed and funded all major provisions of the act. I supported this measure, but it did not pass. The other -- the Senate version -- passed the House and has been signed by the president.
I did not support the Senate version of the bill because of several concerns, including its potential effect on relief services for victims of human trafficking, a startlingly common form of abuse in our country. I had hoped these concerns could be addressed in a House-Senate conference of the legislation, but passing the Senate bill does not provide for this opportunity.