The House passed a bill Wednesday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act but critics say the bill would actually roll back existing protections, including those for immigrants. The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence is among those critics. The group would also prefer the measure include further protections–for gays, illegal immigrants, and tribal residents–similar to the Senate bill approved on a bi-partisan basis.
“VAWA programs have been shown to be cost effective and save lives. We want to build on progress; we don’t to go backwards,” says Tony Gibart of WCADV.
AUDIO: Gibart on how VAWA should be approached (:50)
In the Republican controlled House, Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore has been spearheading a move to include those groups.
AUDIO: Moore on constituents who could’ve benefitted (1:10)
Menominee Falls Republican Jim Sensenbrenner accused Democrats of politicizing the issue and talked of constitutional issues when including tribal groups.
Other Republicans in the House say their bill is more gender neutral and they claim the Democrats’ version presumes that only men are violent and only women are innocent victims.
Both chambers of Congress now have to reconcile the House bill with the Senate version. President Obama has threatened to veto the House version calling it “unacceptable.”