Four Senate Democrats are pressuring the Republican-led House of Representatives to reauthorize the national Violence Against Women Act using a petition signed by 780 advocacy groups and service providers.
Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., want the House to move forward with reauthorization of the Senate's version of the VAWA, which passed the Senate three months ago with 68 votes.
The goal is to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which was originally drafted by then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It provided $1.6 billion for increased investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women and established an office for that purpose within the Justice Department.
Although House Republicans later tried to gut funding for the bill, it was reauthorized by Congress in 2000 and 2005. It has never been favored by conservative Republicans, who object to provisions in the law for same-sex couples and illegal immigrants.
When the Senate passed the bill on April 26th by a vote of 68-31, it was on a surprisingly bipartisan basis. Republican women Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Olympia Snowe of Maine all supported the bill.
They were joined by an unusual number of Republican men, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Dan Coats of Indiana, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Dean Heller of Nevada, John Hoeven of North Dakota, John McCain of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and David Vitter of Louisiana.
The petition is being sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The petition points out that the Violence Against Women Act was originally put together by a vast array of "national, tribal, state, territorial and local organizations, as well as individuals, committed to securing an end to violence against women."
"Included are civil rights organizations, labor unions, advocates for children and youth, anti-poverty groups, immigrant and refugee rights organizations, women's rights leaders, education groups, and others focusing on a wide range of social, economic and racial justice issues," the petition adds.
by RTT Staff Writer
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