Senate passes Violence Against Women Act - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Senate passes Violence Against Women Act

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The Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act by a vote of 78 to 22.

Because the reauthorization bill has had difficulty passing both chambers of Congress in the past, both Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are calling on the House of Representatives to follow suit and pass the legislation.

"Everyone deserves to be safe from abuse." Rockefeller said. "Last week I talked with survivors from across the state who bravely shared their personal journeys to break free from violence.

"The resources provided though the reauthorization of VAWA can literally save lives. Today, I'm calling on the House of Representatives to step up to the plate, pass this bill and join us in protecting women, children and all victims of domestic violence."

Capito and 17 of her Republican colleagues sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging the House of Representatives to pass reauthorization.

"Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act continues to be a top priority for me," she said in a news release. "As the former president of a YWCA that is a leader in combating domestic violence, this is an issue I care very deeply about.

"Especially in communities like West Virginia where victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in rural and remote communities face unique obstacles in their efforts to escape abusive and dangerous relationships, support provided by VAWA can literally be lifesaving. I am urging House leaders to immediately reauthorize this essential Act."

Capito individually sent a letter to Cantor in early February, urging him to bring a VAWA bill to the floor.


Original story:

The Violence Against Women Act is once again up for reauthorization, and one local advocate said domestic violence programs can't continue without it.

Adrienne Worthy, executive director of Legal Aid of West Virginia, said her organization works with 14 domestic violence shelters across the state to provide legal and advocacy services, counseling and support.

Without federal funding provided through VAWA, she's concerned Legal Aid and other similar organizations across the country won't be able to continue to provide that support.

"We are heavily intertwined in our work with other systems, like the court system, law enforcement, social services," she said. "The VAWA is really strong in providing prevention tools and training and help for sex assault victims. All of those pieces make the work we do more effective in those systems."

The Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994 with the support of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. VAWA was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, but it was not reauthorized in 2012.

That's because the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives could not agree on certain provisions contained in the bill, including protection for homosexuals, Native Americans and immigrants.

"Everyone deserves to be safe from abuse," Rockefeller said in a Feb. 7 news release. "We should provide victims of domestic violence with every protection the law can provide, which is why we need to continue this debate and move it quickly toward final passage. I'm confident we'll pass a strong Senate bill, and I'm calling on the House to step up to the plate quickly, pass this bill and join us in protecting victims of domestic violence."

Worthy said the failure of the reauthorization hasn't cost Legal Aid of West Virginia. But she is worried about what may come if the 2013 reauthorization doesn't pass.

"So far, so good," she said. "But the concern would be if it is not reauthorized, what will come down the road. We serve more than 3,000 cases a year for domestic violence victims, which is pretty significant if you think each one of those represents a victim and their family. Knowing there's federal support for ongoing services is really important."

The Senate is expected to vote on passage today. The House will then take up the legislation.  

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