January 23, 2013
ACT NOW! Help build support for an inclusive VAWA. Tell Congress to take immediate action to protect Native women and ALL women against domestic violence!
The 113th Congress has made reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) a top priority. On Tuesday, identical bills for VAWA were introduced in both chambers of Congress.
In the Senate, S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, was reintroduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and now has 28 bipartisan co-sponsors. S. 47 needs 60 co-sponsors for a Senate floor vote. The bill is substantially the same as S. 1925, the bipartisan bill approved by the Senate last spring. The bill has been tweaked to remove a procedural problem that kept it from reaching the House floor in 2012 and opened the door for the House to pass a watered-down version stripping out what would have been strengthened protections for the most vulnerable--Native women, the immigrant population, and the LGBT community. “In the interest of making quick and decisive progress, we introduce the bill today without that provision in order to remove any excuse for House inaction,” Sen. Leahy stated.
The new bill includes key provisions that would restore limited criminal jurisdiction to tribes to prosecute non-Indians who choose to commit crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault against tribal citizens on tribal lands. Native women experience rates of violence 2 ½ times that of any other population and many live on reservations where the murder rate is 10 times the national average. One in three will be raped, two in five will be victims of domestic violence, and three in five will be physically assaulted in their lifetime.
In the House, Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-4), with 153 co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 11. That number has since grown to 158, including all women Democrats in the House, but without any Republican co-sponsors. At a Wednesday briefing with House Democrats, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called on lawmakers to fulfill President Obama’s call to provide equality and opportunity for all Americans. “Today, House Democratic leaders are here to fulfill that promise to protect the lives and secure the liberty and happiness of America’s women and families by reauthorizing and strengthening the Violence Against Women Act.”
“Every day that we wait is at a human cost,” stated Sen. Leahy, emphasizing the importance and urgency in moving quickly to reauthorize VAWA and restore needed services and protections to victims of sexual and domestic violence. Sen. Leahy added that President Obama has already issued his support for S. 47, assuring “me that … basically, what we have here, he will sign.”