What’s Next for VAWA?

For the first time since its inception in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act no longer exists. House Republicans of the 112th Congress failed to renew the legislation, which is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives by providing important protections for victims of abuse and designating millions of dollars for battered women’s shelters, abuse prevention programs and law enforcement. The Senate had approved an updated version of the legislation in April.

Had it been renewed, this new version of VAWA would have provided life-saving policies for women on tribal reservations, who were unfairly left out of previous versions of the law. It also contained altered, nondiscriminatory language that made the act apply to members of the LGBTQ community. The bill additionally contained important protections for undocumented immigrant women, who are too often afraid of being deported to report abuse.

Apparently, extending VAWA to these groups was too much for House Republicans, who instead passed a watered-down version of the Senate bill. According to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.),

For the leadership in the House of Representatives, passing a bill with life-saving protections to these new communities of women was simply not politically acceptable. So just weeks after the Senate passed our bill, in a purely ideological move, House Republicans passed a bill that specifically stripped the new protections for immigrants, the LGBT community and tribal women, and even removed protections that exist under current law.

She continued:

Surely no police officer should ever have to ask the sexual orientation or immigration status of a woman who lies bruised and battered at the scene of a crime. Yet, the House bill drew those lines.

With no compromise between the two bills, and no House vote on the Senate bill, VAWA has simply expired.

So what’s next? CNN writes that supporters of the law hope to revive it in a new Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted that passing VAWA is an early priority for the 113th Congress, which convened last Thursday. Hopefully this time around it will succeed in passing through the House. As Murray emphatically states:

Every moment the House continues to delay is another moment vulnerable women are left without protections they deserve. In the next Congress one of our absolute first priorities must be passing an inclusive and bipartisan bill to extend protections to the millions of new women included in the Senate bill. As a nation we cannot accept further discrimination or delay from House Republican leaders.

Official photo of Sen. Patty Murray from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Lauren Donna Graham says:

    The Republicans keep saying that the War On Women doesn’t exist, yet who blocked the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act? Surprise! It was Republicans. Who wants to eliminate not only abortion, but all forms of birth control? Surprise! Republicans. The party of Rich White Men truly thinks of women as inferior and whose only roll is to serve men. It’s true what the bumpersticker says: The Republican Party; gateway to the 11th century.

  2. where do they sell that bumper sticker? It really needs to go on my car now.

  3. michele marino says:

    What an absolute outrage and insult to be once again reminded of a large group of white men who are sadly stuck in the late 18th century, and insist upon refusing to progress beyond our origins of “Common Law” which specifically viewed women as “property,” denied them the rights to an education or to vote, ensured them a “civil death” upon marriage, treated them as second rate citizens, and inferior beings incapable of “rational” thought or “credibility” in their words. Quite paradoxical if you really think about it; for a group so insidious and hateful to believe themselves to be “superior” and “civilized.” “Civilized” people do not oppress, bully, intimidate, manipulate, control or abuse groups of people. Nor do people of a highly developed mind unfairly discriminate or penalize large communities of people. On the contrary, only those with inferiority and inadequacy complexes exibit these types of behaviors. They have gotten away with it for so long, they think it is simply “acceptable.” Well, it is not… and it’s high time that there was some added measure of regulation upon those who are designated to represent the best interests of the “people,” who fail miserably at doing so, but have no problem giving themselves a raise… How, in a country that claims to be under “rule by the people,” is “self-regulation” by Representatives, and Judges by any means an appropriate execution of “rule by the people?” It is more like tyranny with no method of recourse for the people. When our servants fail to do their job at properly addressing our wishes and needs, our grievance methods are supposed to provide a method of removal, not deny the citizens of the nation their rights to due process and equal justice and protection under the law. It seems as though we have a run-away government on our hands. One in which we face retalliation if we dare protest the injustices we experience on a daily basis. Accountability and restitution. These have become my desired outcome for those entrusted to uphold the law, the integrity of the judiciary and to provide for our protection. Accountability and restitution.

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