Violence Against Women Act Passed by Senate, On to House

Violence Against Women Act Passed by Senate, On to House

By Devin Sanchez

NewsWest 9

It has been expired for more than 30 months, but Tuesday, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill was passed in the United States Senate, with a vote of 78 to 22.

"It's a step. We're definitely grateful it went through in the Senate," Amanda Byrom, Public Relations Coordinator for Safe Place of the Permian Basin, said.

The bill aims to protect women who fall victim to domestic violence and sexual abuse, and helps pay for these victims to get the help they need.

"It provides funding to places like Safe Place and law enforcement so we can all do our jobs better," Byrom said.

Funding expired over a year ago and has yet to be reinstated.

"It was tabled the last congressional session so its been sitting there on the shelf for a while," she said.

Since the bill was written in 1994 by now Vice President Joe Biden, many advances have been made.

"VAWA has gotten the ball rolling on laws for victims of domestic violence," Byrom said.

Laws that made stalking illegal and made states update their laws so that rape by a partner is treated as rape by a stranger.

The controversy began when revisions to the bill expanded protection to gay and lesbian victims, Native Americans and immigrant women.

"All victims of domestic violence should be able to get the help they need, regardless of nationality, sexual orientation and the like," Byrom said.

Among those who voted against the act were Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

Next the bill moves on to the house and Safe Place hopes it will pass there as well.

"We just hope that in the House, they'll come to a bipartisan agreement on the issue so we can get it passed and start helping victims of domestic violence," she said.