Even as top Senate Democrats criticized as “simply unacceptable” the House GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a prominent women’s group promises to make the legislative impasse an issue in the 2014 congressional elections.
Senate Democrats and House Republicans are at loggerheads over reauthorization of VAWA, a law that dates back two decades aimed at providing assistance to victims of domestic violence and other violent crime. President Obama highlighted the need to approve a new VAWA in his recent State of the Union address, noting that Vice President Biden authored the original bill when he was in the Senate.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a version of VAWA on a bipartisan basis with 78 senators of both parties–including all women senators. House Republicans, however, have insisted on a different version of VAWA which will not provide critical protections for rape victims, domestic violence victims, human trafficking victims, students on campuses, or stalking victims, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill called out House Republicans for failing to approve the Senate bill — and warned of political consequences.
“The Republican House leadership has turned to its ultra-conservative, anti-woman playbook yet again to block passage of an inclusive, bipartisan version of the Violence Against Women Act,” she says. “The new House bill purposely excludes LGBT survivors and even rolls back existing programs and protections for all survivors in the current VAWA. Majority Leader Eric Cantor and company know they don’t have the votes to pass their version of VAWA reauthorization, but they don’t care. They will do anything to derail the process.
“Women’s rights supporters are not fooled. We saw what the right-wing was about during last year’s elections, and this is just more of the same. If they keep this up, the conservative majority in the House will be history in 2014, and we can get back to the business of moving this nation forward, not backward,” O’Neill adds.
All members of the House of both parties will be up for re-election in the midterm elections next year.