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House passes Violence Against Women Act to revive, update domestic violence protections


WASHINGTON – The House on Wednesday voted to update and revive a 26-year-old law aimed at reducing domestic and sexual violence that expired in 2018 after Democrats and Republicans could not agree on changes.

The latest version of the Violence Against Women Act must still be approved by the Senate. It passed the House by a vote of 244 to 172, and 29 Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in voting for its passage.

A similar bill the House passed in 2019 was not taken up by the then-Republican controlled Senate. The passage was impeded by gun control politics. 

"Certainly we ran into hiccups with some of the gun issues, and that's a big one for a number of us," said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who is working on a GOP alternative in the Senate. "Stripping away people’s constitutional rights is not something that we should be doing."

The National Rifle Association objected to a provision that would prevent people convicted of abusing dating partners from buying or owning guns. The NRA argued that the change was too broad and would ensnare people for minor offenses such as a tweet. 

That provision is still in the legislation, along with other changes intended to strengthen services and expand protections for victims and survivors.

Democrats say domestic violence has risen sharply during the pandemic, increasing the urgency of renewing the law.

"Delay is not an option," President Joe Biden said in a statement when the bill was reintroduced earlier this month.

Vice President Joe Biden hugs Ruth Glenn of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as Biden's daughter-in-law Kathleen Biden applauds. Biden spoke at the National Archives in Washington to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act Tuesday.

Biden has called the original act, passed in 1994 as part of an omnibus crime package, one of his top accomplishments from his lengthy Senate career. Biden was the lead author of the legislation, which uses federal grants to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking and to try to reduce those crimes. 

He said this month that because he "was raised to believe that the greatest sin was the abuse of power," he championed the need for a federal law, despite being told that domestic violence was a “family issue” that should be left to families to address in private.

Ernst said she's hoping to show there's a significant group of Republicans willing to work with Democrats to come up with a "good, modernized bill" that can block a GOP filibuster.

Source:-https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/03/17/violence-against-women-act-passes-house-again-senate-future-uncertain/6926150002/

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