Republican VAWA Substitute Overwhelmingly Defeated

Senators From Both Parties Reject Weak VAWA Alternative

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, Feb. 8, 2013) – The U.S. Senate Thursday night rejected a Republican alternative to the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) that is authored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and sponsored by 62 senators from both parties.

With the Republican alternative rejected by nearly two-thirds of all senators, and 65 members in all, the Senate is poised to pass Leahy’s bipartisan VAWA bill in the coming days.  Debate resumes Monday.  The measure, cosponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), has the strong support of advocates, victims groups and law enforcement agencies.

“The Republican substitute abandons VAWA’s historic emphasis on abuse of women,” Leahy said on the floor just before the Senate vote. “Women are still more often the victims of domestic and sexual violence with more catastrophic results. The Republican substitute not only fails women, it also fails to guarantee that services will actually reach those victims who have in the past been unable to access them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Unlike the Leahy-Crapo VAWA bill, the Republican alternative offered by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican member, did not include protections for underserved communities and failed to address the needs of local domestic violence providers. The measure also included costly and inefficient bureaucratic provisions that would bog down the actual delivery of services to victims.  The GOP substitute drew just 34 votes on the Senate floor.

“We should listen to those on the front lines of these tragedies who have told us about underserved communities needing protection,” Leahy said. “The Republican substitute would gut core provisions of our bipartisan legislation that we all know we need and that professionals in the field tell us are needed.”

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