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Senate Passes Expanded Violence Against Women Act

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"Unfortunately, I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences," Rubio said in a statement, voicing concerns with the makeup of funding for some of the VAWA programs. "Additionally, I have concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians."

The legislation also adopted an amendment by VAWA's chief sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), providing law enforcement more tools to combat human trafficking (by a 93-5 vote), and another by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to make sure child victims of sex trafficking are eligible to receive grant assistance (by a 100-0 vote).

VAWA expired in 2011 but has continued to receive funding through the appropriations process. Last authorized in 2005, law enforcement believes it needs to be streamlined. Last year the reauthroization fell prey to House Republican resistance to the expanded provisions. The broad, bipartisan passage of the reauthorization through the Senate now increases the pressure on House GOP leaders to act.

Republican leaders are again facing pressure from within their ranks to act. A letter sent Monday night and signed by 17 House GOP lawmakers nudges Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the Senate's direction, twice calling for a bipartisan bill. The House GOP's version last year passed on a party-line vote.

"Now is the time to seek bipartisan compromise on the reauthorization of these programs. ... We believe a bipartisan plan to reauthorize VAWA is more important than ever," wrote Republican Reps. Rodney Davis (IL), Charlie Dent (PA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Jim Gerlach (PA), Chris Gibson (NY), Michael Grimm (NY), Richard Hanna (NY), David Joyce (OH), Leonard Lance (NJ), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Patrick Meehan (PA), Shelly Moore-Capito (WV), Tom Reed (NY), Dave Reichert (WA), Jon Runyan (NJ) and Lee Terry (NE).

After the vote, Leahy and other key Democratic senators called on House Republicans to move speedily on the legislation. They said they're proud to have held their ground on LGBT, immigrant and tribal provisions, saying all victims should be treated equally.

Although House Republicans dislike provisions covering LGBT and illegal-immigrant victims, their primary area of discomfort with the Senate bill is the tribal lands provision. Senior House GOP aides declined to comment, but top Republicans, led by Cantor, are leaning toward a middle path that provides legal recourse for those charged with domestic abuse in Native American courts by allowing them to appeal to U.S. courts.

Leahy declined to speculate on whether that compromise would be acceptable, saying the House should pass its legislation and the two chambers can then resolve their differences.

"[J]ust like last Congress, we all know it will take leadership from Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor to move this bill forward," Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told TPM. "The fate of VAWA still lies squarely on their shoulders and too many women have been left vulnerable while they have played politics."