As a cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, victory is likely for American women and families in response to a published report that the House Republican Majority would allow a vote on the full, Senate-passed version of the legislation.
Until the evening of Feb. 26, the House Republican Majority had only agreed to a vote on a weakened version of the Violence Against Women Act that the conservative wing of their caucus had stripped of protections for vulnerable minority groups like the LGBT community, immigrants and Native Americans.
Protections for women and vulnerable minority populations should not be restricted on by a small group of Congress members whose ideology is out of step with mainstream America. I commend the House Republican Majority for considering a vote on the full VAWA – the watered-down version was a slap in the face to American women, but a change of course will be a victory for all Americans.
The full version of the Violence Against Women Act passed in the Democratically-controlled Senate overwhelmingly last week, in a 78-22 vote. The bill was supported by the majority of Republican senators and every woman in the Senate. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 11, the House version of that bill.
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, which represents over a thousand advocacy groups nationwide, had opposed original House Republican version of the bill, stating: “Unfortunately, the National Task Force must oppose the House [Majority] proposed VAWA legislation… This legislation lacks necessary protections for victims of violence and rolls back current law. NTF supports efforts to move the House legislation closer to the inclusive, bipartisan Senate-passed bill.”
The Violence Against Women Act helps law enforcement officers and prosecutors develop abuse prevention strategies and tactics for arresting and trying batterers, and train advocates for victims and parole officers working with released offenders. VAWA grants are also used to fund battered women’s shelters, rape prevention and education programs, and community organizations that help victims of domestic violence.
The act includes protections for battered women who have to take time off work to attend to medical problems or receive legal assistance, and protections from retribution for victims who report incidences of abuse and measures. VAWA funds are also used to combat the trafficking of young girls and women for sex trades.
Carolyn McCarthy is the representative of New York’s Fourth Congressional District. She was first elected in 1996.