House Sends Violence Against Women Act to President's Desk

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The House voted today to pass a Senate-approved version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act today, sending the bill to President Obama for his signature. An earlier vote on a controversial Republican version of the legislation was voted down.

"The Violence Against Women Act has long ensured that no woman would ever be forced to suffer in silence in the face of domestic violence and abuse," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a statement after the vote. "Today, a bipartisan majority of the House joined the Senate in reaffirming our pledge to America's women and families, strengthening this landmark law, extending protection to LGBT Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants, and preserving the security of all women."

"Today is truly a victory for women everywhere," Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), one of the chief backers of the bill, added.

S. 47 passed without amendment 286-138. Although 87 GOP lawmakers supported the vote, all of the opposition also came from Republicans.

Although it's another major piece of legislation that passed through the Republican-controlled House with a majority of Democratic votes, freshmen Rep. Joaquin Castro said the vote "reaffirms" Congress's commitment to "uphold the safety and well-being of our constituents above politics."

"Domestic violence is an issue that, sadly, affects all of our communities," Castro, D-Texas, wrote in a statement after the bill passed. "It is our duty to protect the victims of domestic violence and work to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice."

The bill was supported by Republicans like House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Budget chairman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and Senate hopeful Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

"While I am disappointed a stronger version of the Violence Against Women Act did not pass, I am proud that such important legislation was reauthorized today with bipartisan support," McMorris Rodgers, the top-ranked Republican woman in Congress, wrote in a statement. "Republicans remain committed to protecting all women against acts of domestic violence, and today we must remember why this bill first passed almost 20 years ago. Protecting women was our first priority then, and it must be our first priority now."

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who joined McMorris Rodgers as one of the primary proponents behind the House GOP bill, was the most prominent Republican to oppose the Senate version of the bill. House Speaker John Boehner did not cast a vote, as is customary for the Speaker of the House.

Both chambers of Congress passed separate versions of the act in the last Congress, although those efforts expired with the end of the 112 th Congress.

"Every single day in America three women die at the hands of domestic violence. Yet this Congress allowed the Violence Against Women Act to expire more than 500 days ago," Democratic Caucus chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., said on the House floor shortly before the vote. "The failure or reluctance of this House to do its work for the American people seems to have now become business as usual. This should not be the new normal."

"Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse," President Obama wrote in a statement after the vote. "Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk."