House Approves Violence Against Women Act With Protections for Immigrants

The bill protects the LGBT, immigrant and American Indian communities.

February 28, 2013, 1:11 PM

Feb. 28, 2013— -- House Democrats joined with some Republicans to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday.

The bill, which was passed by the Senate earlier this month, is aimed at protecting women against domestic violence. It will grant more than $650 million over five years to states and local governments to provide services such as transitional housing and legal advice to victims. It will now go to President Barack Obama who is expected to sign it into law.

House Republicans did object to the fact that the bill includes a provision that allows Native American authorities to prosecute non-American Indians in tribal courts. It also includes protections for immigrants and lesbian, gay, bisxual and transgender people.

See Also: Senate Passes Domestic Violence Bill With New Key Protections

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), head of the House immigration subcommittee, was one of 138 Republicans to vote against the bill. In the end, 286 lawmakers voted in favor, including 87 Republicans and every Democrat. Gowdy called the vote "constitutionally suspect" in a statement.

"I appreciate the work of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victims' advocates and service providers," he said. "They deserve better, and the victims of domestic violence deserve better, than a patently unconstitutional bill."

House Republicans had previously introduced a more limited version of the act, but it was voted down Thursday before the vote on the Senate bill.

ABC/Univision broke down the details of that bill earlier this month after it passed the Senate. Click here to read that report.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) expressed his support for the bill during a meeting with members of the press in his Capitol office on Thursday morning.

"We just need to have a comprehensive bill that includes the LGBT community, Native Americans and immigrants," he said.

He also dismissed the idea that the bill gives too much authority to tribal courts, saying that right now, many abusers are not prosecuted because the tribal courts lack authority, and they may go on abusing other people.

He called the bipartisan passage "probably the first positive act we've taken this Congress."

The act was first introduced in 1994. It expired in 2011 and a divided Congress failed to reauthorize it in 2012.

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