With 62 co-sponsors and a handful of amendments to work out Monday afternoon, senior senate aides tell NBC News the Senate is poised to pass the Violence Against Women Act Tuesday, but in the Republican-controlled House, the bill’s fate is far less certain.
House Republicans leaders are reportedly struggling to come to terms with a provision in the act that would allow Native American police and courts to pursue non-Indians who attack women on Native-controlled tribal lands.
That provision would have helped someone like Diane Millich, a Native-American who had no power to call law enforcement in to stop her abusive white husband back in 1998 because of a jurisdictional loophole, the New York Times reported.
Not all Republicans oppose the bill, including Tom Cole, a Oklahoma representative and member of Chickasaw Nation. He has quietly been pushing his fellow Republicans to move forward on the bill, saying ”We’re holding up a domestic violence bill that should be routine because you don’t want to help Native women who are the most vulnerable over a philosophical point?”
But no Republicans have signed on to co-sponsor the bill in the House either (while more than 180 Democrats are co-sponsors). The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Gwen Moore, blasted Republicans on Monday for their failure to address the issue. “Will House Republicans speak up for the wives, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, friends, even colleagues and pass the VAWA re-authorization that incorporates greatly needed improvements?” she writes. “Or will they remain silent, forcing victims to continue to wait for help that, at this rate, may be a long time coming?”
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is confused by Republican opposition to the bill. “This has been a bill that’s been bipartisan year after year,” she said on Monday’s PoliticsNation. “It’s something that’s overwhelming supported in both the House and the Senate, but for some reason these Republicans are unwilling to protect women and protect their lives.”
“I don’t think Native American women should be treated like a loophole in our society,” she added.
A similar version of the bill passed the Senate last year only to die in the House. The original version of the law was authored by then-Senator Joe Biden and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.