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House GOP eyes watered-down Violence Against Women Act


The Senate has already passed a bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and as we discussed yesterday, the House is set to move on the issue as well. The only question is whether the GOP-led chamber would consider the Senate version or vote instead on its own, watered-down bill.

As Sahil Kapur reports, we now know the answer: it's the latter.

The House GOP's legislation ... reflects some movement in the Senate's direction but falls short of a breakthrough on the central disputes that scuttled reauthorization of VAWA last year, namely, coverage for gay, Native American and illegal immigrant women. Democrats quickly rejected the bill. [...]

Unlike the Senate-passed version, the House GOP's proposed legislation would not guarantee equal coverage for LGBT victims of domestic violence, and it would create a hurdle for tribal courts to prosecute non-Native Americans charged with assaulting women on tribal lands.

In other words, we've made very little progress from where we were in the last Congress -- with far-right House members unwilling to act on a bipartisan Senate bill because of culture-war hang-ups, preferring a weaker proposal that stakeholders believe would leave some domestic-violence victims behind.

"The bill does not protect LGBT victims from discrimination by a service provider nor does it specifically include services to LGBT victims as an underserved population," said David Stacy, deputy legislative director for Human Rights Campaign, told TPM after reviewing the language. "The Senate bill provisions are urgently needed so that actual resources are available to address domestic violence and sexual assault among LGBT families."

Still, House Republicans are reportedly eager to move on this, and we can expect a floor vote as early as next Tuesday, just four days away. If it passes, watch for a contentious conference-committee process.

There was a time in the very-recent past when reauthorizing VAWA was one of the easiest, most one-sided votes in Congress. Now, those days are over.