WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted to renew the Violence Against Women Act on Wednesday.
The bill has caused an uproar among both Democrats and women’s domestic protection programs. The Senate approved a different version of the bill last month that extends protection to same-sex couples,American Indians and illegal immigrants.
The House debate took most of the afternoon and ended with a 222-205 vote for the bill.
Rep. Sandy Adams,R-Fla.,introduced the bill that would provide $660 million over five years to help prevent domestic violence and protect victims of abuse.
Republicans believe their bill will help cut down on fraudulent claims of abuse by illegal immigrants,who can earn citizenship if they have been abused.
“Republican men and women both abhor violence against women,” Rep. Virginia Fox, R-N.C.,said in the House debate. “I would say that we are more concerned against violence against women. … We want to see the money spent better.”
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center wrote on its Facebook page,“If Congress cannot stand up for all victims,we cannot stand up for our representatives.”
Many Democrats argued the bill would end the U visa that gives victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and permission to work for up to four years.
They believe the bill will take away confidentiality requirements,discriminate against lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender victims and create hardship for women who wish to report domestic violence crimes.
“H.R. 4970 takes direct aim at immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by removing critical protections currently in law,” the Obama administration said in a statement.
The administration has said the president is likely to veto the bill if it is not revised because it would “undermine the core principles of the Violence Against Women Act.”
A survey done by the National Organization for Women revealed that 24 people become victims of rape,physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States every minute.
Democrats argued that the House bill is focusing more on visas than on the actual violence issues.
The Senate bill passed on a 68-31 vote. All of the female Senate voted for it,as did a third of the Republicans.
Reach Reporter Kathryn Kenny at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.