McCaskill: We Need to Pass Violence Against Women Act
After critical legislation languishes for 235 days in U.S. House, McCaskill joins women Senators in calling for action
December 18, 2012
WASHINGTON- In a letter to the Republican women in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Claire McCaskill, joined by all twelve Democratic women of the Senate, called for action on the Violence Against Women Act, which has languished for more than 200 days in the House after passing the Senate.
"This legislation has been reauthorized with huge bipartisan majorities in the past, and now the U.S. House can't seem to come to the commonsense conclusion that Americans still need these life-saving protections," said McCaskill, a former Jackson County Prosecutor. "I have seen how this bill saves lives. The last two times this legislation was renewed, if you add together the votes, we had a margin of 981-5. And yet, this bill has sat in the House for eight months, and that's completely unacceptable-we don't have much time left to act and a further delay could put these resources at risk."
The original Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994 with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Support for the legislation's renewal in 2000 was more lopsided, with a 95-0 vote in the Senate, and a 371-1 vote in the House. And an even stronger consensus emerged in 2005, with unanimous approval in the Senate, and a 415-4 vote in the House.
Earlier in the year, instead of taking up the Senate's comprehensive reauthorization of VAWA, the House passed a version which drastically cut critical programs and denied protections for Native Americans and members of the LGBT community.
"All women should be protected and introducing into this legislation the notion that some women subject to violence deserve to be protected while others do not is something we believe we can all agree is unacceptable," the letter reads.
The full text of the Senators' letter is available below.
Dear Women of the House Republican Conference,
As mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and women intent on protecting the inclusive and bipartisan history of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), we are reaching out to you to ask for your help. With only a matter of days remaining in the 112th Congress, we are asking that you work with your leadership to take action and finally pass the Senate's bipartisan Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. With your leadership on this issue we will resolve this matter in a way that puts the safety of all women ahead of partisan politics.
As you know, the Violence Against Women Act enables important efforts across the country to combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It is widely supported by law enforcement officials, victims' advocate groups, and the public at large. It should be one of the least controversial and most bipartisan measures we consider.
In fact, until now, this bill has been among the most broadly supported measures considered in both the House and Senate and has only become more so over time. The original VAWA passed in 1994 with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Support for the legislation's renewal in 2000 was more lopsided, with a 95-0 vote in the Senate, and a 371-1 vote in the House. And an even stronger consensus emerged in 2005, with unanimous approval in the Senate, and a 415-4 vote in the House.
However, it has now been more than 220 days since the Senate gave bipartisan approval to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. The 68-31 Senate vote was a convincing show of bipartisanship at a time when legislation in the Senate is often subject to far more partisan treatment. The legislation has, however, stalled since then. House Republican leaders have so far refused to pass the Senate bill, instead insisting on an alternative watered-down measure that removes key protections for women. All women should be protected and introducing into this legislation the notion that some women subject to violence deserve to be protected while others do not is something we believe we can all agree is unacceptable. We should not pick and choose which victims of abuse to help and which to ignore.
In 2013 and beyond, the women of the House and Senate are primed to play an even larger role in guiding national policy and we should do so by working across party lines. Let's not wait any longer to take a critical step forward. We urge you join us by working with your party leaders to put women's safety first. Saving the lives of women is and should be above politics, and every one of us without regard to party should cast a vote for the safety of all women.
U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
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