The House will consider the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) today, the same day the Senate voted 78-22 to approve the renewal. In expressing optimism that similar legislation would pass in the House, Senator Leahy pointed to a letter sent from 17 House Republicans to Boehner and Cantor urging passage of the bill in their chamber.
The letter is signed by 17 House Republicans: Rodney Davis (IL), Jon Runyan (NJ), Charlie Dent (PA.), Dave Reichert (WA), Richard Hanna (NY), David Joyce (OH), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Michael Fitzpatrick (PA), Jim Gerlach (PA), Chris Gibson (NY), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Leonard Lance (NJ), Patrick Meehan (PA), Tom Reed (NY), Lee Terry (NE) and Michael Grimm (NY).
Sandra Fluke also made her feelings known today in her twitter stream:
The 1994 law, which was up for reauthorization last year, provides funding for prevention and recovery services to victims of crimes like domestic violence and rape. However, there are concerns about provisions that contradict federal law to allow tribal courts new powers to try Americans in their courts. From The Washington Post:
Last year the two chambers were unable to find common ground, with the House rejecting the more expansive Senate version, which specifies that services provided under the act would be available to gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women. The Senate bill, last year and again this year, also tackles the high rate of domestic violence on tribal lands by giving tribal courts powers to prosecute non-Indians who assault Indian women on reservations.
…The act provides grants to state and local authorities for legal assistance, transitional housing, law enforcement training, stalker databases and domestic violence hotlines.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to the yesterday, which was rejected:
Before moving to a final vote, the Senate on Monday rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., which would have stripped out the most controversial part of the bill — the provision giving Indian courts additional powers. The vote against the amendment was 59-31.
“What we’ve done with this solution is to trample on the Bill of Rights of every American who’s not a Native American,” Coburn said, predicting the courts would strike down the provision as unconstitutional.
Supporters of the bill say a 1978 Supreme Court decision that denies Indian tribes the power to try non-Indian citizens makes an exception for proceedings that are acceptable to Congress.
According to the NTUF, the bill would cost $607 million over 5 years, while other estimates say it will cost $659 million.