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Violence Against Women Act Allowed to Expire; Supporters Hope To Revive Efforts During 113th Congress

Violence Against Women Act Allowed to Expire; Supporters Hope To Revive Efforts During 113th Congress

January 4, 2013 — The House and Senate adjourned last year without reconciling differences in their respective versions of legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, CNN reports (CNN, 1/4). This is the first time that Congress has failed to reauthorize the law since it was first passed in 1994 (Xia, PolicyMic, 1/3).

The Senate bill (S 1925) included specific protections for undocumented immigrants; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; and Native Americans, while the House bill (HR 4970) omitted those protections (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/20/12).

Supporters of VAWA are planning to renew efforts to pass an expanded version of the bill during the congressional session that began Thursday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "[W]ith two more Democrats in the Senate, we hope that [the bill] will have an easy path there and a doable path there -- and a successful one in the House," adding, "It is an early priority for us."

Megan Whittemore, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said Cantor is "working with our members, Vice President Biden and groups who serve those directly affected by these crimes to seek common ground across party lines and put an end to violence against women."

Threats to Programs

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women said VAWA-funded programs could be in jeopardy because of looming budget crises at all levels of government. Almost 200,000 individuals could lose the assistance they currently receive unless a reauthorization measured is passed, according to the Task Force.

Nancy Neylon, executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, said the failure to reauthorize VAWA also could lead to layoffs at advocacy organizations (CNN, 1/4).