In a 244–172 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) two years after it lapsed, The Hill reported.
But while the move was celebrated by Democrats, some Republicans have expressed concerns about the legislation, which was first authored by now-President Joe Biden and expired back in 2019, according to The Hill.
Support among Dems
Among the Democrats singing the bill’s praises is Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). “Women cannot go back,” Lee, who was among those to reintroduce the legislation in the lower chamber earlier this year, said, according to The Hill.
“Women cannot continue in an intimidated fashion to tragically be subject to men who violently attack them,” she added. “That is what this legislation is about.”
Support for the measure among Democrats wasn’t limited to the halls of Congress, however. President Biden, who originally introduced the Violence Against Women Act while serving as a Delaware senator in 1990, called on lawmakers to “come together in a bipartisan manner” to reauthorize it.
The president went on to call a recent worldwide upswing in domestic violence “a pandemic within the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Delay is not an option, especially when the pandemic and economic crisis have only further increased the risks of abuse and the barriers to safety for women in the United States,” Biden said in a statement, according to The Hill.
GOP cries foul
Meanwhile, Republicans are crying foul over the measure, which Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko (R) argues would harm gun rights by extending a ban on firearm purchases to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and stalking offenses against individuals they aren’t married to, living with, or have a child with.
Lesko also expressed unease over new rules that would require domestic violence shelters to accept transgender individuals who identify as women.
“I am intimately familiar with the desperate situations many women who are victims of domestic abuse face,” the Arizona Republican said on the House floor, according to The Hill. “As a domestic violence survivor, I know just how important services and protections are to women across our nation. Previous reauthorizations of the Violence Against Women Act have been bipartisan, but not this one.”
Lesko also reportedly charged that the bill “is filled with partisan priorities that force women’s domestic violence shelters to take in men who identify as women, strip away protections for religious organizations, and eliminate Second Amendment rights without due process.”
“The most egregious provisions of this bill push leftist gender ideology at the expense of important protections for women’s privacy and safety,” she concluded, according to The Hill.