Outrage as 172 Republicans vote to oppose Violence Against Women Act

House of Representatives votes through bill to reauthorise Violence Against Women Act day after Atlanta spa shootings

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 18 March 2021 09:35 EDT
House votes to renew Violence Against Women Act

One day after seven women were killed in attacks across three massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia, the US House of Representatives voted to reauthorise the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The act, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), “creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.”

The act was originally authored by the now-president Joe Biden, but had lapsed two years ago.

Representatives voted 244 to 172 in favour of the bill, largely along party lines, though 29 Republicans joined the Democrats in supporting its passage.

NNEDV, in a press release, said that it “applauds the bill’s lead sponsors, Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and all those who voted for VAWA’s passage.”

Deborah Vagins, president of NNEDV, said it was a vote “to support survivors... that both maintains established protections and resources and expands VAWA to address ongoing gaps in the law”.

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“The pandemic continues to reveal deep racial and gender inequalities that impact survivors’ lives and jeopardise their safety,” she added. The VAWA addresses the needs of historically marginalised survivors in a number of critical ways, she said.

According to The Hill, among other things, the act will end the so-called “boyfriend loophole”, where spouses convicted of domestic violence are banned from owning guns but non-married partners and ex-partners are not.

Ms Vagins said the bill “builds on the progress that has been made for survivors, but acknowledges there is much more to be done to prevent violence, address abuse, and ensure safety. The bill takes a comprehensive approach, addressing the complex realities of survivors’ lives. We celebrate the House bill and urge the Senate to swiftly pass it.”

One user on Twitter also thanked lawmakers who voted for the VAWA reauthorisation. “My daughter’s ex-husband was financially abusive to her during their marriage. She’s fortunate that she had a godfather & extended family who could support her as she left the marriage. Obviously, not all women are that blessed. So, TY for your advocacy,” she said.

While the bill’s passage in the House was celebrated, there was also a widespread reaction to the fact that so many lawmakers chose to vote against the bill.

One social media, Jake Lobin, whose bio identifies him as a “devout Democrat”, tweeted” “172 Republicans voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act today because they see no problem with violence against women.”

Another user blasted the Republicans for having “no redeeming qualities”, and others accused the party of not caring for the safety of women in the country.

Many also celebrated the reauthorisation of VAWA.

President Biden welcomed the bill’s passage, adding: “I urge the Senate to follow their lead to renew and strengthen this landmark law.

“Writing and passing VAWA is one of the legislative accomplishments of which I’m most proud. VAWA has transformed the way our country responds to violence against women,” he said.

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