WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar and a group of her fellow women in the Senate have called on the House of Representatives to pass a domestic violence protection bill before Congress recesses at end of the year.
The Senate passed a version of the Violence Against Women Act in April, reauthorizing an 18-year-old law in largely bipartisan fashion. The House followed by passing a version of its own, but Democrats have bemoaned the bill for leaving out several provisions the Senate approved, including those that:
Apply the law to gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans;
Allow Native American women to take American citizens accused of abusing them to tribal court;
And expand the number of temporary visas for undocumented immigrants who are abused and cooperate with police investigating the alleged crime.
Republicans say their bill is streamlined and allows federal funding for abuse protection programs to go to those who need help the most. Democrats say the House approach goes against the rights and, after November’s elections, the wishes of American women.
With only a few days left to pass the bill this session, Senate women — all of whom, both Republican and Democrat, voted for the bill — are calling on their counterparts in the House to pressure leadership to take up the Senate bill.
“[The bill] has had bipartisan support through the years, since Joe Biden led this bill, since Paul Wellstone was a leader on domestic violence, the bill has always had strong bipartisan support,” Klobuchar said a Tuesday press conference, flanked by fellow senators.
Looking to demonstrate the effect domestic abuse has on everyone, Klobuchar recalled the story of a Lake City, Minn., police officer shot and killed when he responded to a domestic violence call.
“When you look at victims of domestic violence, it is not the one person,” she said. “It is an entire family, it is an entire community.”
The Violence Against Women Act has largely taken a backseat during Congress’s lame-duck session as lawmakers obsess over the upcoming "fiscal cliff." Earlier this month, Biden and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor were reportedly working to forge a VAWA compromise, and Judiciary Committee aides to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the sponsor of the bill, said his staff is also working with Cantor, though House Republicans have yet to propose new legislation on the matter.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray warned Tuesday that any proposal that doesn’t include provisions for Native Americans, LGBT women and immigrants is an “absolute non-starter” if it were to come to the Senate.