GOP Puts Forward ‘Violence Against Women’ Reauthorization Bill

Pete Kasperowicz
April 30, 2012

House Republicans on Friday introduced their own version of a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), planning to mark up the bill in committee next week and bring it to the House floor the week after.

Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) and 35 other Republicans, more than half of them women, put forward a bill they say will strengthen the existing program. The bill, however, is different from the bill the Senate passed last week, and could set up a dispute between the two chambers about how to proceed. Still, Republicans called on both parties to work together to move the bill, H.R. 4970, in the weeks to come.

“According to a recent study, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States,” Adams said. “With alarming statistics like these, the need for VAWA is clear.

“That is why I am proud to introduce the House’s reauthorization, which aims to make important changes to VAWA, while ensuring that taxpayer resources help victims — not Washington bureaucrats,” she said. “It is my hope that my colleagues in both the House and Senate can put politics aside and support this lifesaving legislation.”

According to a House aide, the bill includes many of the VAWA reforms found in the Senate bill, and would boost grant money for sexual assault prevention programs and increase minimum prison sentences for some crimes.

However, the measure does not extend VAWA protections to same-sex couples, nor does it expand the availability of visas for illegal residents who are victims of domestic abuse the way the Senate bill does.

Under the Senate bill, S. 1925, illegal residents would have access to these “U visas” to help them win legal protections while in the United States. Republicans have charged that this expansion would increase the budget deficit by about $105 million.

In contrast, the House GOP bill would require more oversight of this visa program.