Democratic-controlled U.S. House passes Violence Against Women Act

By Keya Vakil

April 4, 2019

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), the choice in front of lawmakers today was between helping victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse or helping the NRA and allowing stalkers and abusers to have access to firearms.

In voting against the Violence Against Women Act, 157 House Republicans chose to help the NRA instead of survivors.

Democratic-controlled U.S. House passes Violence Against Women Act

The bill passed by a margin of 263-158. Only 33 Republicans broke with their party to vote yes.

Initially codified in 1994, The Violence Against Women Act authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to fund programs that support victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse and stalking. The law expired during the 35-day government shutdown earlier this year.

The revised legislation includes a new provision which closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and bars gun sales to convicted abusers of current or former dating partners. Democrats also added language making it illegal to sell guns to anyone found guilty of a stalking misdemeanor or under a one-party restraining order.

The new provisions drew the ire of the powerful National Rifle Association, a Virginia-based gun advocacy group. The NRA opposed the bill and accused Democrats of political gamesmanship.  

All four members of Virginia’s Republican Delegation voted against the bill, while six Virginia Democrats voted for it. Rep. Donald McEachin (D-04) did not vote, but expressed his support in a tweet.

Democratic-controlled U.S. House passes Violence Against Women Act

“VAWA must be reauthorized,” freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-07) said in a press release, “so that we can respond to this urgent, widespread, and often underreported issue in our Central Virginia communities.”

“By empowering law enforcement and health professionals, we can build a structure of support and care for the many women in Central Virginia and around the country who have experienced violence,” Spanberger added.

When lives are at stake, there is no time to waste

Former Congresswoman and gun-violence survivor Gabrielle Giffords also spoke out in support of the legislation, praising the House vote and calling on the Senate to take action.

“The responsibility to take the next step now shifts to the Senate,” Giffords said in a press release. “Every 16 hours, a woman in America is shot to death by an intimate partner. When lives are at stake, there is no time to waste.”

It’s unlikely that the Republican-controlled Senate will pass the bill as is. Instead, they may attempt to remove the new measures and pass their own version of the bill, which would delay its final passage as lawmakers in both chambers work to reconcile differences.

Advocates are already calling on the Senate to pass the House version of the bill.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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