House fails to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) bill >>

January 3rd, 2013

House fails to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) bill

Efforts to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) failed in the House of Representatives. The bill failed to reach congressional reauthorization for the first time since it was originally signed in 1994. The law was enacted by Congress in 1994 and is a landmark measure that seeks to prevent and end violence against women and girls throughout the United States.

The Senate and House passed competing bills, but failed to come to an agreement on differences. The Senate bill included broader protections for Native women, the LGBT community, and immigrant victims of domestic violence. On April 25, 2012, the Senate measure, S. 1925, passed by a wide bipartisan vote of 68-31, with 15 Republicans voting in favor of the bill. The Senate bill included strong tribal provisions that would have restored tribal court criminal authority over crimes of domestic violence (DV) committed by non-Indians – authority that was struck by the Supreme Court in the 1978 Oliphant case. The Oliphant case opened a gap in jurisdiction over non-Indian crimes. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that many non-Indian misdemeanor DV crimes go unprosecuted, the offender becomes emboldened, and the violence escalates. DOJ has been a strong advocate of restoring tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians as proposed in S. 1925.

VAWA programs will continue to receive funding through March like other discretionary programs because of a Continuing Resolution signed by President Obama this past September, but it is yet to be determined how funds will be allocated to programs with the new budget deal.

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