CONGRESS PASSES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT

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San Diego Republicans drop opposition, vote to pass measure

By Miriam Raftery

March 1, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Two Republican Congressmen from San Diego, Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa, previously voted against renewal and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act to include protections for Native American, gay and immigrant women.

But this week, both shifted their stance and joined with Democrats to pass  the measure 286 to 138. Local Democratic House representatives Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas also voted in favor. (View roll call) The bill has also been approved by the Senate, where California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein supported it, and is expected to be signed into law by the President.

The law had expired, leaving all battered women without the protections afforded by the Violence Against Women Act, due to the House blocking the measure for over a year.  But after mounting public pressure by women’s groups, Native American rights advocates, immigrant and gay rights organizations and others, 87 House Republicans joined with all 199 Democrats to pass the reauthorization bill, expanding rights to include all women.

San Diego County is home to 19 Native American tribes, more than any county in America, as well as large populations of immigrant women

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-California) issued the following statement following passage:

“After an unnecessary delay of more than 500 days, the House today finally did the right thing and passed commonsense legislation protecting battered women from their abusers.  Protections were extended to those most in need of a helping hand, including battered women who are Native American, immigrants and LGBT.  Because of VAWA, tribes have the authority to prosecute non-Indians who commit domestic violence against their Indian spouses or dating partners and that is a tremendous step forward in protecting Native American women from these senseless acts of violence.”

She added, “Under VAWA, states will be given more funding to vigorously prosecute sexual and domestic violence offenders and can also qualify for money to provide key services to victims.  The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for trafficking victims and helping to ensure traffickers are brought to justice.”