Today, more than a year after the Violence Against Women Act expired at the end of 2011, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing a bipartisan reauthorization bill. Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27) released the following statement:
"For nearly twenty years, Congress worked on a bipartisan basis to expand and improve the Violence Against Women Act. The abandon of that common purpose by Congressional Republicans last year may have been a political game to them, but for those facing violence in their homes, it was a matter of life and death.
"Today, we finally passed the bipartisan legislation that the Senate has repeatedly passed before us. We did so after rejecting the GOP alternative that would have left immigrants, LGBT individuals, and Native Americans living on reservations without equal protections.
"The whole point of this law is to protect the vulnerable -- not to cherry pick who matters. So I am thrilled to see Republicans finally end this year-long embarrassment of leaving victims to fend for themselves. It's high time we safeguard the lives of each and every person -- male or female, gay or straight, American or not -- from the threats posed by predators in our society."
First passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act provides protections for the victims of domestic violence such as automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowing civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. It was reauthorized and expanded on in 2000 and 2005, before expiring at the end of 2011.
On February 12, 2013, the Senate passed bipartisan reauthorization legislation by a vote of 78 to 22. Having refused to vote on the same bipartisan Senate bill last year, the GOP-lead House agreed to vote on it today after their alternative proposal failed to pass.