Calling the federal Violence Against Women Act reauthorization “a critical piece of unfinished business,” the New York Times editorializes for a version introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Id.). The bill passed the Senate last year but was blocked in the House, largely over provisions that would expand protections against abuse for gay and immigrant victims.
The new Senate bill would provide services, like shelters and legal help, for victims of abuse regardless of their sexual orientation or immigration status. It omits the original bill's modest increase in the number of special visas, known as U-visas, available to undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults. The new bill also incorporates steps to reduce the national backlog of untested rape kits. These changes might make it easier to push the legislation through the House. The Times says quick Senate passage “would help put pressure on Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders in the House to stop playing ideological games and reach agreement with the Senate on extending this lifesaving law.”