US House passes legislation to reauthorise Violence Against Women Act

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Representative Image
Representative Image

Washington [US], March 18 (ANI): The US House of Representatives on Wednesday (local time) passed legislation to reauthorise the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was originally introduced by President Joe Biden but lapsed in 2019.

Lawmakers voted largely along party lines 244-172 to approve the measure, with only 29 Republicans joining all Democrats in support, reported The Hill.

The legislation was reintroduced by Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Brian Fitzpatrick, along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler. It would provide grants to state and local governments for programs addressing domestic abuse, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

According to The Hill, it would further close the so-called boyfriend loophole to prevent dating partners convicted of domestic violence or abuse from buying or owning guns.

"Women cannot go back. Women cannot continue in an intimidated fashion to tragically be subject to men who violently attack them," Jackson Lee said.

The law was originally enacted in 1994 and has been reauthorized repeatedly in the decades since. But it has not been renewed since its latest expiration in February 2019.

The Act did not get action in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans at that time who objected to the gun control provision.

Biden urged Congress to "come together in a bipartisan manner" to move the legislation quickly, particularly given what he called 'a a pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic' after a reported spike in domestic abuse following stay-at-home orders, reported The Hill.

"Delay is not an option, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States," Biden said in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 44 per cent of women in the US have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes, along with about 25 per cent of men.

The VAWA renewal is among several bills that House Democrats have been resending to the Senate in recent weeks now that they control both chambers of Congress.

However, Republican Representative Debbie Lesko, who said she was a victim of domestic abuse, felt that the bill does not adequately solve the problem

"This version is filled with partisan priorities that force women's domestic violence shelters to take in men who identify as women, strip away protections for religious organizations, and eliminate Second Amendment rights without due process. The most egregious provisions of this bill push leftist gender ideology at the expense of important protections for women's privacy and safety," she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the House passed a resolution to eliminate the deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, reported The Hill. (ANI)