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Republicans Obstruct & Undermine Violence Against Women Act


Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. today said, "Despite a veto threat by President Obama, House Republicans passed (222-to-205) their extreme version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization. I voted 'NO' on the House Republican Bill (H.R. 4970) because it violates the traditional spirit of bipartisanship that past VAWA Reauthorizations have enjoyed and because it undermines the idea of ensuring all victims of domestic and sexual violence are protected.

"On April 26, the Senate passed a strong VAWA Reauthorization by a bipartisan vote of 68 to 31, but this extreme and partisan Republican House Bill fails to include many of the protections in the Senate version and rolls back current protections such as: protections for battered immigrant spouses legally here; protections for the LGBT community; and protections for Native American women, including provisions providing concurrent tribal jurisdiction over those who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country. The House version guts these provisions and leaves many of our most vulnerable women unprotected.

"To focus on one dimension of the bill affecting Native Americans, women in tribal communities experience domestic violence at rates far higher than the general population, often at the hands of non-Indian men. Indeed, well over 50 percent of all Native American women are married to or live with a non-Indian. Currently, many of these domestic violence crimes go unprosecuted because tribal courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian defendants. Additionally, federal and state law enforcement and prosecutors have limited resources and may be located hours away. As a result, non-Indian perpetrators regularly go unpunished and their violence continues.

"Unfortunately, this House GOP bill fails to include many of the key provisions in the Senate-passed bill that fill this jurisdictional gap by narrowly expanding concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over those who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country, in specified circumstances and with significant protections for the rights of defendants. Furthermore, the House Bill actually includes provisions that will make Native American women LESS safe. The National Congress of American Indians has sent a letter to Congress, stating, the bill 'includes a dangerous new provision that has the potential to further undermine the safety and autonomy of victims in Indian Country. … [It] would allow tribal governments to seek a protection order from the federal government regardless of the wishes of the victims. This runs contrary to one of the foundational principles of VAWA, which has always encouraged and supported victim-centered responses that help restore autonomy and control to battered women.'

"Those are just some of the reasons why I voted 'NO' to this extreme Republican Bill," Jackson concluded.

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