House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) told CNN on Thursday that the new session of Congress will address the stalled VAWA as soon as possible.
“It is an early priority for us,” Pelosi said. “Since it passed the Senate last time, with two more Democrats in the Senate, we hope that it will have an easy path there and a doable path there – and a successful one in the House.”
A renewed VAWA passed the Democratic-controlled Senate last April with revisions that included increased protection for the LGBT community, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants.
An estimated 30 million more women would benefit; however, Republicans in Congress balked at the additions and passed their own version without the expanded securities.
Congress had until December 31 to renew the act, but couldn’t come to an agreement while also debating the “fiscal cliff” fiasco.
Now, VAWA begins all over again.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) told The Huffington Post she will reintroduce the bill in 2013.
Murray said the Republican Party has an opportunity to advance women’s health and security.
“They have the opportunity to do it now,” she told HuffPo. “They have the opportunity to take up this bill and show women and men that they understand that women’s rights are important.”
Both Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the failure to renew VAWA, which had enjoyed bipartisan support throughout its history.
Many credit VAWA for significantly reducing violence against women since its introduction in 1994.
A GOP source told Talking Points Memo that Democrats threw up roadblocks and refused to listen to opposing views during last-minute negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia).
“The vice president showed good faith, but for Senate Democrats it was ‘my way or the highway,’” the source told TPM.
“Democrats made clear they were more interested in protecting a political issue than protecting women from domestic violence.”
Caught in the middle are organizations that aim to protect women and children by ending domestic violence.
With the act suspended, groups worry about layoffs and funding cuts.
Nancy Neylon, executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, told CNN that “we have no services here” without VAWA funding.
“We have no state money that supports domestic violence or sexual violence programs,” she told CNN.