Violence Against Women Act tops priority list for Senate’s longest serving Dem

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was among several lawmakers who attended President Obama’s gun control proposal Wednesday.

While Leahy has proven that he may be key in advancing gun control legislation, he announced yesterday that it will not be his top priority in the new Congress.

During his remarks Wednesday at Georgetown University Law Center, Leahy announced, “the first legislation I plan to move in the new Congress is the Violence Against Women Act. Last year, the Senate passed my bipartisan bill, but House leaders refused to agree to protect some of the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence and rape. Like so many other worthy efforts, renewing VAWA suffered from obstructionism that has seeped too much into our legislative process.”

In Nov 2011, Sen. Leahy, a longtime proponent of VAWA, introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in a bipartisan approach with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID).

The legislation was passed by a large majority in the Senate, but ultimately died on the House floor after conservative Republicans refused to back the measure’s additions which included protections for Native Americans, immigrants and the LGBT community.

Leahy, the longest serving Democrat in the Senate, scolded House Republicans who refused to support these new protections.

“A victim is a victim is a victim. We should stop setting up standards that say we will have one standard of law enforcement for one group of victims but not for another. This is going to be our first priority this year.”

Violence Against Women Act tops priority list for Senate's longest serving Dem