Calling a House reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) "unacceptable", Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) today blasted the GOP for approving a bill she says will strip rights away from same-sex partners, immigrants and Native Americans who are victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
The House version of the bill passed 225-205 Wednesday, mostly along party lines. Lowey said in a statement she prefers the Senate version of the bill, which was approved by a 68-31 vote on April 26.
That bill, Lowey said, provides the same protections victims have received since the VAMA was first approved in 1994. The bill has been renewed several times since then with bi-partison support, but Lowey said the Republican-backed House version passed Wednesday strips protections from certain groups.
“Every member of our community deserves protection from domestic abuse and sexual violence," Lowey stated. "The House majority should take up the bipartisan Senate legislation, which maintains and expands protections that all women and families deserve."
Lowey accused the House GOP of putting politics before the needs of victims.
“It is outrageous that the House majority is seeking to turn protection of women and families into a political football by stripping away protections for same-sex partners, immigrants, Native Americans, and others," she stated.
Republicans have defended the bill by dismissing allegations of insensitivity, saying the House version protects all and is gender neutral, reports CBS News.
"It really pains me to see my colleagues across the aisle make the kind of accusations that they make about Republicans being unconcerned about the issue of violence against women," Representative Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) said, according to CBS. "How could they possibly accuse us of not being concerned about that issue? All Republicans are concerned about violence against anyone."
The House and Senate will now work to create a bill for passage in both chambers.
Lowey also joined Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore and Aoyama-Martin, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center, on April 2 to call for responsible reauthorization of the bill.
She cited more than 300 organizations that oppose the House version of the bill in her statement Thursday.