Today, the House of Congress will be considering the renewal of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, which expired more than 500 days ago. Why hasn't such a crucial piece of legislation been renewed? The short answer is that House Republicans blocked the VAWA vote in order to pursue their own conservative agenda in the form of an adapted bill. The differences between the original, meaty, bipartisan Senate VAWA and the lean, pared down conservative alternative are pretty stark, and predictably concerning. While the Republican bill authorizes funding for programs that aid the prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assault cases, it excludes a host of marginalized victims. Alternatively, the bipartisan VAWA, according to The Washington Post, broadens protection “to gays and lesbians and expands the authority of tribal courts to prosecute non-Native Americans accused in domestic violence cases on Indian reservations.” While passing this bill sounds like a no-brainer, a bloc of conservatives in the House clearly want to limit crucial protection to straight white women, probably because they think that’s what Thomas Jefferson/God would have wanted. Luckily, House GOP leaders finally made a good decision on VAWA and approved a voting process that will allow the Congress to vote on the Senate-approved bill if the Republican version doesn’t pass. Basically, the House will finally get to vote on the bipartisan VAWA bill, but only if they reject the Republican bill first.
This monumental two-part vote is slated to take place at 12:30 p.m. today. According to Salon, the Republican bill is expected to fail due to the unanimous opposition of House Democrats. Additionally, the support of a number of moderate Republican representatives should ensure the passage of the Senate-approved VAWA bill. Right now there’s still time to contact your representative and demand that all women receive the protection they need and deserve. In the words of NY Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, “Somehow in this sad new world of partisan politics and endless rancor, even the Violence Against Women Act has become a political football. But this is not about politics. It is about the single most fundamental task that we require of our government—to keep its citizens safe from violent assault.”
Images Via NBC and AmnestyUSA.org