Leahy Releases Bipartisan Senate Letter: House Should Set Up-Or-Down Vote On Senate’s Consensus VAWA Bill To Support ALL Victims Of Violence

WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, June 12)— Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the lead author of the Senate’s Violence Against Women Act, sent a bipartisan letter with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) Tuesday to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), urging him to bring up the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act. This landmark law has been at the foundation of the nation’s response to domestic and sexual violence since 1994, and the Senate’s bipartisan reauthorization measure is based on months of work with survivors, advocates, and law enforcement officers from all across the country.

While the House passed its own version of the legislation last month, that measure did not include key provisions to meet the needs of all victims of domestic and sexual violence. To ensure that victims’ needs do not go unanswered, Leahy and Murkowski called upon the House to take up the Senate’s bipartisan VAWA bill.

“Saving the lives of victims of domestic violence should be above politics.  Yet politics seem to have gotten in the way of House passage of the bipartisan Senate Violence Against Women (VAWA) Reauthorization Act,” Leahy and Murkowski wrote to Boehner. “We cannot afford to let another day go by.  We urge you to swiftly allow for an up-or-down vote in the House on the Senate’s bipartisan VAWA Reauthorization Act.” 

The Senate bill, of which Leahy is the lead author and Murkowski a cosponsor, was approved April 26 on a 68-31 vote. The legislation had the support of 15 Republican Senators, and is endorsed by more than 1,000 national, state and local organizations, from law enforcement to religious organizations, victim advocates to health professionals.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act would further strengthen and improve programs authorized under the landmark law to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  The reauthorization bill includes an increased focus on sexual assault, including the addition of new purpose areas to support the efforts of sexual assault coalitions working in the states and provisions to help reduce rape kit backlogs.

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[The text of the Leahy-Murkowski letter is available by clicking here.]

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