The House of Representatives let the Senate-approved bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expire at the end of the 112th congressional session without ever seeing a vote. This is the first time VAWA has not been reauthorized since it was first passed in 1994.

The Senate approved the reauthorization of VAWA in April 2012 and included new provisions that would extend access to law enforcement and services for Native American women, better access for immigrant women who fear deportation if they report violence, and better access for LGBT victims. The House drafted a second version of VAWA that excluded these new protections, the Cantor/Adams VAWA. The House passed the Cantor/Adams version of the bill, which was the first time a draft of VAWA had been approved by either chamber that narrowed or restricted protections.

Without approval by both the Senate and the House, the process of reauthorizing VAWA must start over with the new congressional session.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was one of the key sponsors of the bill in the Senate, and plans to reintroduce the bill in 2013. She issued the following statement regarding the failure of the House to reauthorize the bill, “The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. …No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”

“I think they are still so kowtowing to the extreme on the right that they’re not even listening to the moderates, and particularly the women, in their caucus who are saying they support this,” Senator Murray told theHuffington Post.

In the almost 18 years since VAWA was initially passed, millions have benefited from its provisions. Between 1993 and 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence declined by 67%. VAWA established the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which receives over 22,000 calls each month and VAWA funds train over 500,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and other personnel each year.

Media Resources: Guardian 1/2/2013; Huffington Post 1/2/2013; MSNBC 1/2/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/17/2012, 4/26/12

Word Collage on Stop Violence Against Women from Shutterstock

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