The House did not vote in its waning hours on reauthorizing of the Violence Against Women Act, legislation opposed by many key Republicans because it would have extended domestic violence protection to lesbians and transgender individuals, in addition to undocumented immigrants and Native American women.
The decision led to a swift rebuke from one of the bill’s key Democratic supporters, Washington Sen. Patty Murray.
“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women,” Murray said in a statement.
“But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”
Under the original bill, Native American tribal authorities had jurisdiction over violent crimes against women that were committed on their own lands, by their own people. However, if a non-tribal member came into their land and committed a violent crime, only federal and state authorities had jurisdiction.
This limitation of authority made it difficult to prosecute offenders: Federal and state authorities have limited resources and they are often located hours away from tribal lands.
During the reauthorization debates on the VAWA during 2012, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said, “All Americans are entitled to feel safe in their workplace, in their homes, and walking on our streets. Yet too many women continue to live in fear. And that is why we must reauthorize – and strengthen – and pass – the Violence Against Women Act.”