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Senate Set to Vote on VAWA Reauthorization

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The U.S. Senate is poised to vote next week on passage of the Violence Against Women Act. The act failed to win approval in the GOP-dominated House last year for the first time since it was introduced in 1994.

Subhead: 
The U.S. Senate is poised to vote next week on passage of the Violence Against Women Act. The act failed to win approval in the GOP-dominated House last year for the first time since it was introduced in 1994.
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Vice President Joe Biden was the original sponsor of VAWA.
Richiec on flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 
(WOMENSENEWS)—The U.S. Senate is poised to vote next week on authorization of funding for a longstanding women’s safety program that failed to pass the GOP-dominated House in December.

The bill currently has 56 Senate co-sponsors and co-author Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is sounding bullish about getting it through the U.S. House in a slightly amended form.

"We have still some issues that remain,” Crapo told reporters on Jan. 23. “We will work with each other and with the House of Representatives to make the necessary adjustments, if needed, to get that broad bipartisan support and to get this bill to the president's desk."

This time the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)--which failed in 2012 to win approval in the GOP-dominated House for the first time since it was introduced in 1994--will be modified to avoid the “blue slip” technicality that House opponents used to halt it last year.
 
A “blue slip” refers to a rejection slip issued from the House on a Senate tax or spending bill. According to the Constitution, a bill that generates revenue must originate in the House not the Senate, the Huffington Post recently reported.
 
The revenue-generating provision of the 2012 version was an amendment that provided for the issuance of more visas to immigrant women to protect them from the threat of domestic abuse, sexual assault, sex trafficking in their homelands.
 
House lawmakers argued that since the so-called U-visas would raise revenue, the entire bill was out of order.
 
The reintroduced bill drops the U-visa element but retains two other amendments that stirred partisan opposition on more services for LGBTQ victims and Native American women. 
 
“There's no blue slip question here," Crapo’s co-author, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters after last week. "If I can get 90 to 95 percent of what I want, I'll take that and then fight for the other 5 percent."
 
Leahy and Crapo reintroduced VAWA, which provides essential protections for victims of rape, domestic abuse and other violent crimes, MSNBCreported Jan. 23.
 
Last year’s bill included a modest increase in the number of visas available to immigrant women who are victims of violent crimes and who assist authorities in the investigation of those crimes. 
 
These U-visa aims to encourage victims to report their abuse by allowing them temporary legal status and work eligibility in the U.S for up to four years. The current availability of U-visas is capped at 10,000.
 
The original sponsor of the law, Vice President Joe Biden, pushed the reauthorization of the bill via Twitter on Jan. 23: "The need for a strong #VAWA bill could not be more clear or urgent. All victims should be protected. Congress should pass VAWA. –VP.”
 
BIO: Victoria Fitzgerald is a freelance writer in New York City.