UPDATE: Senate to Vote on Re-Authorizing VAWA


UPDATE: The Senate has voted down a GOP amendment to the Violence Against Women Act, 65 to 34, that would have removed language covering LGBT  victims of domestic violence. The body is still set to vote on Monday on whether to pass the final bill–which has 62 cosponsors, a good sign that it will finally be passed.

After failing to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act for the first time in 18 years, the Senate is expected to vote today on the passage of the bill.

On Monday, the Senate voted 85 to 8 in favor of renewing discussion of VAWA, which expired last September. Originally passed in 1994, VAWA aimed to end violence against women by providing federal resources for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The bill the Senate will finally vote on is very similar to the bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy and Mike Crapo in 2011. It would improve past VAWA programs and increase protections for tribal, LGBT and immigrant victims. However, the new bill removed the section that would have increased the number of visas available for immigrant victims of violence. House Republicans had argued that this would have allowed them to kill the bill under an obscure “blue slip” provision because it would raise revenue (which only a House-originated bill can do).

According to Senator Leahy:

The bill closely mirrors the bill that was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate last year, and is the result of close consultation with law enforcement officials and the dedicated experts in the field who are so committed to saving the lives of many women around this country. For nearly 20 years, the programs supported by VAWA have been a lifeline to so many. They deserve swift action in Congress.

VAWA has been shown to have contributed to the nationwide decline in intimate-partner violence, and its reauthorization is vital for continued protections. The bill is as relevant in 2013 as it was in 1994: Sexual assaults occur every two minutes, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women and LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to have been physically assaulted at school. By passing VAWA, the Senate will have a chance to demonstrate its commitment to breaking the cycle of violence against women.

Photo of Senator Leahy from Flickr user Senator Chris Coons via Creative Commons 2.0