House to Vote on Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (R) joins Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) during a news conference about the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on March 17, 2021
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (R) joins Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) during a news conference about the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in the Rayburn Room at the U.S. Capitol on March 17, 2021
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

Given the prolonged fuckery that defined the 1,460 days Trump was in office, it’s not surprising that things that shouldn’t have been a problem, became a problem. After a government shutdown derailed its renewal on 2019, the House is set to vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

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According to CBS News, the Violence Against Women Act was initially passed back in 1994 and was championed by then-Senator Joe Biden. During his campaign, President Biden stressed how important it was that his administration reauthorizes the act. As previously mentioned, a government shutdown resulted in the bill expiring in 2019 and any attempts to reauthorize the bill were shut down by the then-Republican-controlled Senate.

From CBS News:

The current bill would expand victims services and reauthorize grant programs for the criminal justice response to domestic and sexual violence. It also includes provisions that would expand housing options for survivors, and end immunity for non-Native perpetrators of sexual violence on tribal lands.

It would also close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to prevent dating partners and stalkers convicted of domestic violence or abuse from purchasing and owning firearms. Previous versions of the bill already prevented spouses convicted of domestic violence or abuse from obtaining firearms.

The House passed a version of VAWA including this amendment in 2019, but it died in the Senate, which was then controlled by Republicans. Some GOP lawmakers objected to this portion of the bill, arguing it was too broad. Republicans also offered objections to provisions that would have expanded protections for LGBTQ and undocumented immigrant victims.

The bill protects women and limits access to guns by people who shouldn’t have them. I wonder why the Republican-controlled Senate didn’t approve its passage?

While the bill will probably pass with some bipartisan support in the House, its chances in the Senate are less clear. Most legislation needs 60 votes to pass in the Senate, and Democrats hold a slim majority in the 50-50 split chamber. GOP Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is being assisted by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on crafting their own version of the bill.

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“What we’re hoping to show is that we have enough Republican support on our bill, and that we’re willing to work with Democrats on this, and hopefully, by combining forces we can come up with the 60 votes needed and pass a good modernized bill that will work for the Senate, hopefully then the House,” Ernst told CBS News.

Ernst added that closing the “boyfriend loophole” was what derailed the last bill, so it’s fair to assume that the GOP proposal will have no mention of it. I guess, to me, it doesn’t matter if you’re married or simply someone’s boyfriend. An abuser is an abuser. Period. So preventing those people from obtaining firearms and potentially taking their abuse to a deadly level kind of seems like something that should be addressed.

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The ongoing pandemic has only increased the need for these protections to be restored. As more and more women lost their jobs, and ability to take care of themselves, a disproportionate amount of Black and brown women were found to be more likely to go back to their abusers. There’s also been reports that incidents of domestic violence have gone up as a result of lockdowns to combat the pandemic.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.

DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

It’s a slippery slope. If you prevent violent boyfriends from getting guns, what’s to prevent hay, illegal, immigrants from taking out jobs?