VAWA Passes House, Heads to President


The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), with expanded protections for Native American, immigrant and gay and lesbian victims of abuse.

The measure, which was approved by the Senate on Feb. 12, passed the House on a 286 to 138 vote. No Democrats voted against the bill and 87 Republicans voted to pass it.

The Washington Post notes that it was “the third time since December that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has allowed legislation to move off the floor that did not have the support of a majority of his divided members.”

House Republicans brought another version to the floor earlier in the morning. That version, which was rejected 166 to 257, did not include many of the new protections included in the re-authorized bill. According to the Huffington Post, the bill’s defeat “drew loud cheers in the chamber.”

Originally passed in 1994, VAWA funds programs that assist victims of crime and aid in the prosecution of domestic and sexual abuse cases.

The bill expired in 2010 and re-authorization efforts have stalled several times since. Last April, the Senate passed a bill re-authorizing VAWA, but it never made it to the House floor for a vote.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that many House Republicans, stung by losses among women, minorities and young voters during the recent presidential election “were eager to see some version of the bill win approval.”

President Barack Obama said in a statement that he plans to sign the bill as soon as possible.

“Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse,” Obama said in the statement.

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