Bay Area lawmakers vote against House VAWA bill

The House voted 222-205 today to pass H.R. 4970, the Republican version of a bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which aims to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence.

No Bay Area members voted for the bill. Supporting it were 216 Republicans and six Democrats; opposing it were 182 Democrats and 23 Republicans. Most House Democrats had pushed for accepting the Senate’s bipartisan version of the bill, S.1925.

From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has been an essential tool in protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence, and it has always been bipartisan. The House Republicans’ version of VAWA unwinds the long-standing commitment to lifesaving assistance for the most vulnerable victims. It eliminates confidentiality protections for immigrant victims, imposes broad and imprecise mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders, lacks protections for LGBT victims, and limits resources for victims living in subsidized housing or on college campuses. In every case, this is unacceptable.”

From Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in a floor statement:

“The Senate bill prohibits discrimination against gay or transgender individuals in VAWA programs. It ensures that immigrant women can file domestic violence complaints without fear for their safety. It extends vital protections to Native American women by permitting non-Indian men who commit violent crimes against them on tribal land to be prosecuted through the tribal system. It also includes important improvements to better address the high rates of dating violence and sexual assault experienced by people in college and other educational settings.”

“In contrast, the House Republican VAWA bill leaves out all of these protections. It delivers the reprehensible message that women in the United States are not worthy of protection if they are gay, Indian, or non-citizens and it flat out fails to make other needed updates to the law.”

“Congress should not be in the business of choosing who is and is not deserving of safety. Every woman should have access to protective services if and when she needs it. The regressive policy in H.R. 4970 falls far short of this goal. I stand with President Obama and women’s advocates across our country in opposing this bill and I urge all my colleagues to vote against it.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“VAWA is a critical tool to ending domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Unfortunately, instead of being serious about the federal reauthorization of VAWA, Republicans are attempting to roll back current law and weaken protections for women. I know from personal experience that domestic violence is not only physical, it is emotional. It is brutal, it is dehumanizing to the batterer and the battered, and without strong and enforceable criminal laws and services, it can shatter and destroy a life.”

“Our colleagues in the Senate recognize the need to modernize and expand protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. This is the bill that the House of Representatives should be consider – not H.R. 4970, which would pose a serious threat to the lives of victims. We cannot afford to play political games with women’s lives.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.