The New York Times reports that all Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee have voted against a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The law was first instated in 1994 to provide federal funding to fight domestic violence and sexual assault. It has since expanded to protect victims of other forms of assault and violence, such as stalking and dating violence, through reauthorizations in 2000 and 2005. The new draft up for reauthorization was in fact introduced to the committee in part by Republican Senator Michael Crapo of Idaho, yet his fellow party members on the Senate Judiciary Committee have unanimously voted against the new draft. As the Times reports, they take issue with the bill’s language in aid of minority groups:
The Republican opposition seems driven largely by an antigay, anti-immigrant agenda. The main sticking points seemed to be language in the bill to ensure that victims are not denied services because they are gay or transgender and a provision that would modestly expand the availability of special visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence — a necessary step to encourage those victims to come forward.
The bill passed the committee nonetheless, but now needs to pass through the Senate. Fighting violence, of any kind, should not be a political issue. It is clear from this committee’s actions however that it is still subject to political biases, evidently in this case due to attempts to aid LGBTQ or immigrant victims.
Here is a full PDF of the proposed law: To reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994
Republicans Retreat on Domestic Violence [NY Times]