Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says the passage of the Violence Against Women Act is a major victory for millions of American women.
The House reauthorized the measure with a bipartisan coalition of 199 Democrats and 87 Republicans. After months of delay and public pressure, GOP leaders surprised observers by allowing a vote on the House floor Thursday.
“I was very surprised and very pleased. I think the Republican leadership realized that this was potentially a devastating issue for them if they did not at least allow a vote,” says Yarmuth
VAWA’s reauthorization means Louisville groups such as Catholic Charities and the Center for Women and Families will continue to receive federal support.
Those organizations receive about $700,000 in funding from the act, and rely on it to pay for staff positions and legal aide. About $4 million is spent on 45 similar agencies across Kentucky.
VAWA passed the Senate earlier this month by a 78-to-22 vote, but the act was held up in the GOP-controlled House over new provisions to extend VAWA’s protections to illegal immigrants, Native American tribes and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered citizens.
Opponents argued the bill was unconstitutional and could infringe of the rights of the accused, adding that Democrats wanted a wedge issue over a good law.
“This ensures more women aren’t being preyed upon,” says Yarmuth. “Regardless of where there violent acts were committed that they can be brought to justice, and that’s the important victory here.”
All Republicans members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation voted against the bill except for Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr.
Barr’s office has not responded to our request for comment.