Violence Against Women Act facing GOP opposition in the Senate

Mar 17, 2012

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has voiced her support for the Violence Against Women Act and has urged the GOP to work in a bipartisan fashion with Democrats for this legislation. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

New provisions in the legislation, first passed in 1994 and twice reauthorized, have Republican senators balking. The revised VAWA would, among other things, expand the program to include same-sex couples, allow illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas for protection, and grant Indian tribal courts the right to bring charges against non-Indians in domestic violence cases.

The bill has received mostly unchallenged bipartisan support in the past, and Democrats hoped to have reauthorization passed by the end of March. But Republicans claim the Dems are beefing up the legislation to create an artificial rift and paint the GOP with an “anti-woman” brush. Several of the changes, they say, present problems, including the potential issuing of thousands of temporary visas and a failure to address immigration fraud, as well as what they consider a lack of oversight when it comes to funding.

If Democrats push to fast-track the bill, Republican leaders say they’ll have no choice but to block it. “It’s a shame that the majority party is manufacturing another partisan, political crisis,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said last week. “No doubt we need to consider the Violence Against Women Act at the appropriate time, but there must be a fair process that includes consideration of our alternative that ensures more money goes to victims rather than bureaucrats, and helps root out more of the well-documented fraud in the program.” “It certainly shouldn’t be controversial,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said,. “Protecting women against violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”


Shyama Venkateswar, Ph.D., director of research and programs, National Council for Research on Women

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