HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Wednesday to renew the lapsed Violence Against Women Act.
A bipartisan bill to reauthorize VAWA, as it is known, was introduced in the House earlier this month by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who serves the 18th congressional district that includes most of central Houston, her Democratic peer House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler of New York and Republican Rep. Brain Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.READ MORE: Virtual Learning May Remain An Option At Some North Texas School Districts
The new bill builds upon previous versions of the VAWA by authorizing funding for grants and other forms of support in an effort to prevent and combat sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking and deliver assistance to victims.
According to a fact sheet from the House Judiciary Committee, the bill would improve and expand aid and services for victims and survivors. The sweeping legislation includes provisions to make safe housing more accessible and bolster economic security by ensuring that state unemployment benefits cannot be denied to individuals who leave jobs due to sexual harassment or assault, domestic or dating violence or stalking.
Biden has applauded the effort to reauthorize VAWA, saying in a statement on the recent bill introduction that Congress should “come together in a bipartisan manner to ensure swift passage of VAWA legislation in both the House and the Senate.”
Biden went on to say, “Domestic violence is being called a pandemic within the Covid-19 pandemic, with growing evidence showing that the conditions of the pandemic have resulted in escalated rates of intimate partner violence, and in some cases more severe injuries.”
The Democratic-controlled House voted in 2019 to reauthorize the legislation after it expired, but the reauthorization did not pass the GOP-controlled Senate.READ MORE: Firefighters Battle Raging Fire At Addison Apartment Complex
Now the House Democratic majority is poised to again pass a reauthorization. This time around Democrats control the Senate, but the effort will still face an uncertain future in the chamber. With a 50-50 partisan split, it is not clear there would be enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster.
When asked if he would support the reauthorization bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa “has been our leader on that issue.”
Ernst later told reporters, “We are working on a bill again, taking what we worked on in the last Congress and we will likely reintroduce,” adding that “it will be different from the House bill.”
The Iowa Republican said she hopes it will be possible to “work through those differences in the two bills, find the areas of agreement and move forward with a modernized bill.”
“We’re willing to work with Democrats on this and hopefully by combining forces we can come up with the 60 votes needed,” Ernst said.MORE NEWS: Texas COVID-19 Hospitalizations At Lowest Level Since Last June
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