The GOP-led House on Wednesday voted to approve the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a piece of legislation that is the subject of partisan controversy despite the fact that both parties hope to see some it passed in some form.
After an impassioned debate on the House floor Wednesday, the bill passed with 222 members voting in favor and 205 voting against. But now, both chambers of Congress must figure out how to reconcile the House bill with the Senate-passed version.
VAWA, which aims to protect victims of domestic violence, was originally passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice since then, with broad bipartisan support. The bill’s reauthorization has become a source of strife this year as Democrats and Republicans squabble over the scope of its protections.
In April, the Senate hammered out legislation that included protections for Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, and gay, lesbian and transgender victims in addition to those already protected under the legislation. That bill passed late last month with bipartisan support.
The House version of the bill, however, stripped out those expansions. Even with the last-minute addition by Republicans of an amendment aimed at quelling criticism over the discrepancies between two versions, Democrats decried the legislation for excluding certain groups and undermining its broader purpose.
“Let’s call this bill what it’s really is. It’s not the Violence Against Women act, but the Open Season for Violence Against Women Act,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., in a press conference Wednesday.