The Senate finally voted to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) despite months of partisan wrestling over just who was deserving enough to be protected from domestic abuse.
In the end the renewal easily cleared the Senate on a 68-31 vote. 15 Republicans joined all members of the Democratic caucus in voting yes. Notably, the 31 Republicans who voted against renewing VAWA are all men.
The bill now heads to the House where Republicans are working on their own version of the bill. So far the major differences include further limiting the number of visas granted to immigrant women who are the victims of domestic abuse, striking any specific protections for gays, lesbians and transgender people, and permitting tribal authorities to go to federal court for protective orders on behalf of abused American Indian women. The Democratic version that passed the Senate expands the power of tribal officials to handle cases of abuse of Indian women by non-Indians.
“Today’s strong bipartisan vote will give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to prosecute and convict the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, and will help victims get the protection and support they need,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement after the vote.
Debate around the bill had become so fierce and so divisive that at one point Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) a fierce advocate for stronger domestic abusive protections broke down and started crying in his testimony in support of the bill.
The House is expected to vote on their version next month.
Photo from martinak15 via flickr.