So basically, it's a replay of 2012. Last year, the Senate passed an expanded Violence Against Women Act reauthorization by a bipartisan 68 to 31 margin, while this year, the Senate passed an almost identical bill by 78 to 22. That means a narrow majority of Senate Republicans voted for this bill. Yet House Republicans are, once again, refusing to bring this bipartisan bill up for a vote before replacing it with a weakened, exclusionary version of their own. And weakened and exclusionary it is. Jennifer Bendery reports that:
The House GOP bill entirely leaves out provisions aimed at helping LGBT victims of domestic violence. Specifically, the bill removes "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" from the list of underserved populations who face barriers to accessing victim services, thereby disqualifying LGBT victims from a related grant program. The bill also eliminates "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" from the list of groups who may not be denied funding under VAWA.The provision allowing abusers of Native American women to move to federal court isn't necessarily a dealbreaker, but again, the original provision was good enough for 23 out of 45 Republican senators, yet John Boehner won't even let it come to a vote in the House?
Additionally, the bill proposes compromise language aimed at helping Native American victims of violence. Under the Senate bill, tribal courts would gain new authority to prosecute non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on reservations. The House bill also grants that new authority—a major change from their VAWA bill in the last Congress—but adds a caveat that would allow those people to move their case to a federal court if they feel their constitutional rights aren't being upheld.
As for excluding LGBT victims, heaven forbid Republicans not take an opportunity to exclude LGBT people from any legal protection or right that crosses their path. Keeping victims of domestic violence from having access to services for victims of domestic violence is a great way to emphasize just how completely you reject their relationships, so of course that's going to be a House Republican priority.
This exclusionary House bill needs to be scrapped. Please sign the petition urging House Republicans to pass the Senate version of the expanded, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act.