Going to the mat for women - Sen. Patty Murray challenges House Republicans on VAWA
 

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posted Friday, January 25, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 4

Going to the mat for women - Sen. Patty Murray challenges House Republicans on VAWA
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington Senator Patty Murray issued a statement January 22 challenging the House Republican leadership to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

'The fate of the Violence Against Women Act still lays squarely on the shoulders of [Majority Leader] Eric Cantor and [House Speaker] John Boehner,' Murray said.

'To date they have refused to listen to countless law enforcement and women's groups as well as moderate voices in their own party in the House and Senate who've said we need to pass the Senate's bipartisan bill that extends protections to millions of new women.'

VAWA, drafted by then-Senator Joe Biden in 1994, sets aside federal money to assist in the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, and provides for restitution and civil redress for victims. Because it provides federal funds, it must be reauthorized periodically.

LESBIANS EXCLUDED
In April, the Senate passed the reauthorization bill 68-11, but the Republican-controlled House refused to take it up. Republican House leaders passed their own version of the bill, which removes explicit protections for undocumented immigrant women, as well as Lesbians, Trans women, and Native Americans.

Because Republicans would not agree to a joint conference to write a compromise bill, the legislation lapsed when the 112th Congress adjourned. It was reintroduced in the Senate on January 22, with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) as the prime sponsors.

'In a new Congress, on a newly reintroduced bill, the House Republican leadership faces the same choice,' Murray said in her statement.

'They can either kowtow to those on the far right of their caucus who would turn battered women away from care, or they can stand with Democrats, moderate Republicans, and the many millions of Americans who believe that who a person loves, where they live, or their immigration status shouldn't determine whether they are protected from violence.

'In the days ahead, I encourage the moderate Republican voices in the House to call on their leadership to pass the bipartisan Senate bill. Too many women have been left vulnerable while House Republican leaders have played politics.'

HELP FOR RAPE VICTIMS
The latest version of VAWA is essentially the same as the previous measure with two significant differences.

First, the new bill includes the SAFER Act, according to Leahy. This provision is aimed at reducing the backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases.

Second, it omits a section increasing the number of temporary visas available for undocumented immigrant women who have fled abuse in their home countries. Republicans had opposed this provision last year, saying that allowing more visas for abused immigrants would result in fraud.

'In the interest of making quick and decisive progress, we introduce the bill today without that provision in order to remove any excuse for House inaction,' Leahy said.

'We have retained other important improvements for immigrant victims in the bill we introduce today as part of our commitment to ensuring that all victims are protected.'



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