Yesterday evening, the White House released a statement saying that the President will likely veto HR 4970, the House Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill. The Senate recently passed its version of the VAWA, updating it to include protection for Native American women, LGBT victims, immigrants, and college students. The Senate’s bill was passed 68-31, with 15 Republicans voting for it. The House bill will not only retract these additions, but also eliminate some of the confidentiality currently afforded to immigrant victims (i.e., abusive husbands could easily find out that their wives are applying for legal status on their own, thus making it more difficult for these women to leave abusive relationships). A great article on the Huffington Post gives some examples of how this Act has been used in the past to protect and help abuse victims.
Fortunately, the President will not stand idly by on this issue. In a release yesterday, the White House stated
These proposals senselessly remove existing legal protections, undermine VAWA’s core purpose of protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, frustrate important law enforcement objectives, and jeopardize victims by placing them directly in harm’s way.
If the President is presented with H.R. 4970, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
It’s important to note that the last two times this Act came up for renewal, it was easily passed with bipartisan support. Clearly, this being an election year, both parties are looking for ways to make the other look bad, and to strengthen their hold on their own base. But honestly, I always hope there are limits to these types of politics. Are we really going to endanger abuse victims for the sake of making a point? C’mon House. This is the easy stuff.