As we reported on Wednesday, Congress had until New Year’s Eve to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, but House Republicans let the law expire.
With the passing of the deadline, we’re now getting a better sense of why efforts to renew the law failed. The Huffington Post reported, for example, that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who had negotiated directly with Vice President Biden on the law’s fate, refused to allow VAWA to advance in his chamber because he wanted to scrap protections for Native American women. The bipartisan Senate version extended tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal lands, and the House Republican leader deemed that unacceptable.
Sahil Kapur explained, reauthorization “fell prey to House Republican resistance – in this case, to expanding the Act to cover more women. In the end, House GOP leaders refused bring to a vote a bill that passed the Senate with a bipartisan supermajority.”
But VAWA proponents aren’t done. My colleague Jamil Smith reported yesterday that Cantor’s office is still willing to “move the bill forward,” though it’s unclear what it will take to make that happen, and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women will continue to push for the law’s return.
In a statement posted on their site Thursday expressing their “anger” over the failure to pass a new VAWA, it appears the national task force has run out of patience.
“The U.S. House of Representatives continued to voice strong opposition to offering basic protections to certain vulnerable populations…” the task force wrote. “There is no time to waste in addressing the needs of victims. We call on the 113th Congress to act immediately on VAWA this month and pass a bill that safely and effectively meets the needs of all victims.”
Capitol Hill sources told me yesterday that the Senate intends to act on VAWA fairly quickly, without major changes from last year’s version, putting pressure once again on the House to act.