VAWA Vote: Bill Stands a Chance in Congress On Thursday


House Republicans are now on board in considering the renewal of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA has already passed in Senate, but a Republican version of bill was devised in the House to counter and address what the GOP found problematic with the original.

On Thursday, the House will vote on whether or not to pass the Republican version of VAWA, which disenfranchises Native Americans from prosecuting non-Native Americans for crimes committed on their territory. The Republican version of VAWA also fails to give explicit protection of services to members of the LGBT community through same sex couples. If the House fails to pass this version of VAWA, it will then consider the Senate version of the bill, which passed earlier this month. The Senate version includes new protections for Native Americans and LGBT people, as well as improved protections for college students.

Current Vice President Joe Biden was the first to authorize VAWA. The act was then signed into law by former president Bill Clinton in 1994. It is designed to provide funds to authorities at the local and state level for increased assistance for victims who report instances of sexual and domestic abuse. Examples of upgraded provisions guaranteed by VAWA include transitional housing, stalker databases, and law enforcement training. Since 1994, the act has been re-instated twice — once in 2000 and again in 2005. It expired once again at the end of 2012.

The Senate voted to re-implement the act by 78-22 in mid-February, with bipartisan efforts coming into play. While Obama urged Congress to send VAWA to his desk, gaining the approval of House Republicans has faced great opposition. The biggest issue Congress appears to have with the Senate version of the measure is the precautions outlined concerning tribal courts. The GOP claimed the intervention as possibly unconstitutional, though there are arguments that prove otherwise.

Several House conservatives aren't at all pleased with the turn of events. The Hill reports that some, like Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) are worried that the House accepting bills from the Senate without moving a Republican version may become more common in 2013.

The GOP alternative of the Violence Against Women Act is expected to fail on Thursday, which may mean that the House may adopt the Senate version, and the bill would go to President Obama to sign.