WASHINGTON -- With broad support from the U.S. Senate, legislation to renew and expand the Violence Against Women Act is heading to the House of Representatives, where a previous renewal bid failed over Republican concerns about new services for gay, immigrant and Native American victims of domestic violence.
The Senate's 78-22 vote Tuesday afternoon reauthorizing the act extends central provisions such as funding for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women while also expanding services for the groups it did not previously serve. The act, first passed in 1994, has since been reauthorized twice with bipartisan support. The proposed reauthorization would extend services through 2018.
Since losing seats in November's elections, Republicans have talked about reaching out to minority groups. With its passage in the Senate, the act will test House Republicans' dedication to those words. Twenty-three Republicans voted for it in the Senate.
Tuesday's legislation dropped a specific provision that would have expanded visas for battered immigrants, which the House objected to last year because the provision would technically have raised revenue, which the Constitution prevents the Senate from doing. Following rejection of the Senate bill last year, the House proposed alternative legislation that omitted the visa provision and also services for gay victims. It also rejected a proposal to change Native American courts to allow them to try non-natives.