U.S. HOUSE PASSES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BILL
With a nod to Women’s History Month, the Democratic-led House passed two measures Wednesday (Thursday, March 18, 2021, in Manila), one designed to protect women from domestic violence, the other to remove the deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), Kevin Freking reported for the Associated Press (AP).
The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act passed 244-172 with 29 Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the legislation. The resolution to repeal the ERA’s ratification deadline passed 222-204. Both measures face a more difficult path in an evenly divided Senate.
The White House announced its support earlier Wednesday for reauthorizing VAWA, which aims to reduce domestic and sexual violence and improve the response to it through a variety of grant programs. Many of the Democratic congresswomen wore all-white outfits to commemorate the day, a nod to the women’s suffrage movement when marchers would wear white dresses to symbolize the femininity and purity of their cause.
President Joe Biden introduced the original Violence Against Women Act in June 1990 when serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A subsequent version was eventually included in a sweeping crime bill that President Bill Clinton would sign into law four years later. Congress has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act three times since. Biden applauded the House action and urged the Senate to follow suit.
“This should not be a Democratic or Republican issue — it’s about standing up against the abuse of power and preventing violence,” the president said in a statement Wednesday evening.
The original bill created the Office on Violence Against Women within the Justice Department, which has awarded more than $9 billion in grants to state and local governments, nonprofits and universities over the years. The grants fund crisis intervention programs, transitional housing and legal assistance to victims, among other programs. Supporters said the reauthorization would also boost spending for training law enforcement and the courts.
“This bill leaves no victim behind,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. The legislation also would prohibit persons previously convicted of misdemeanor stalking from possessing firearms, a provision that generated opposition from the NRA and resulted in most Republicans voting against the measure in the last Congress.