Domestic Violence

Senate Passes VAWA without Republican Changes

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, though its passage is less certain in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

(WOMENSENEWS)-- The U.S. Senate voted to pass S. 1925, the Democrat’s version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization (VAWA), 68-31, on April 26. It will now go to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where its passage is less certain. 

S. 1925 cuts the previous 2005 authorization by 17 percent and will continue VAWA until 2016. 
 
The U.S. Senate defeated three proposed amendments to VAWA this afternoon.
 
The Grassley-Hutchison amendment, which modified or eliminated protections for female immigrants, Native women and those in same-sex relationships, was defeated 36-63. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, argued that her amendment actually protected those in same-sex relationships because it included gender-neutral language. However, others claimed that not specifically including language to protect gay and lesbian individuals did not adequately provide protections.
 
It would also have eliminated the ability of tribal courts to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence. Many Republicans, like Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, claimed that allowing tribal courts to do so would be “unconstitutional.”
 
The amendment also would have increased minimum mandatory sentencing for many sex offenders. Senate Democrats were concerned that these changes would dissuade women from reporting crimes, reported Roll Call April 26. 
 
The upper chamber voted 57-41 on another amendment proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to address the backlog of rape kit testing by increasing funding, but 60 votes were needed to pass it. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, proposed a similar amendment, though Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Cornyn's amendment had “onerous and illogical reporting requirements." Cornyn's amendment was defeated.
 
 
Photo Credit: U.S. Capitol on Shutterstock
 
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