United States: House Passes Restrictive Version of Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Bill
Sunday, May 20, 2012 12:45 PM

On May 16 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4970 the Cantor/Adams version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization bill. This is the first time since the VAWA was passed in 1994 that a reauthorization bill has failed to improve protections for women. The bill limits protection provided to victims, especially immigrant, Native American, and LGBT survivors of domestic violence. The House version removed the following improvements to the VAWA that were included in the Senate version of the bill that passed in April of this year:
  • The bill restricts the ability of immigrant victims to stay in the U.S. on a visa during legal proceedings.
  • The bill removed the provision that allowed Native American authorities to prosecute non-Native individuals who abuse Native women despite that fact that over 50 percent of Native women have non-Native husbands.
  • The bill removed a guarantee of services to LGBT survivors.
  • The bill removed improvements that would address the high rates of sexual assault and relationship violence on college campuses.
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill will go before a House/Senate Conference Committee, but the Obama Administration released a statement threatening to veto the House version if he is presented with it because it removed some of the essential provisions in the Senate version. The policy statement urged House members to find “common ground” with the Senate passed-bill and continue the Senate's “forward progress” on protecting victims.