Legislation & Lobbying

Violence Against Women Act passes House; ABA praises Congress

The House voted Thursday to pass the Senate’s version of a bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

The measure will now go to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it, according to multiple reports.

The legislation passed the House on a 286-138 vote, with 87 Republicans joining 199 Democrats to reauthorize the 1994 law that provides support for organizations that assist victims of domestic and sexual violence. The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, “providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice,” Politico reports.

In a statement Thursday, ABA President Laurel G. Bellows said the ABA “applauds members of Congress for coming together” to renew the legislation.

“VAWA is the most effective effort to address crimes of stalking, dating and domestic violence, and sexual assault in our country,” Bellows said in the statement. “Expanding protections for Native Americans, campus victims, survivors of sexual assault, and victims of violence regardless of immigration status, and, for the first time, including protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual victims is a critical victory for fairness and human dignity.”

Though the bill passed the Senate earlier this month, a version unveiled by the House last week came under sharp attack from several quarters for failing to include protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse, and for stripping certain provisions for Native American women on reservations, the New York Times reports.

The House first voted on its own version of the bill, and when that version failed to pass, took up and passed the Senate version, the Times says.

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