The House Committee on the Judiciary approved H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012, on May 8. The measure was approved by a vote of 17 to 15, along party lines, and now awaits action by the full House of Representatives. It is expected that the full House may take action on the measure as soon as May 15.
The policy provisions included in the House bill are significantly different from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization that was approved by the Senate on April 26 (see Memo, 4/27). The differences between the bills center on three politically charged issues:
- The ability for tribal authorities to prosecute domestic violence cases that occur on tribal land.
- Assurances that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered victims of domestic violence are covered by VAWA protections.
- Protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence.
H.R. 4970 would remove these provisions, which were included in the Senate bill. “The Senate set aside partisan differences to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. The Senate bill, which passed with a supermajority of Democrats and Republicans, including every woman Senator, is a true reauthorization of VAWA, as is the bill introduced in the House by Representative Gwen Moore. This body needs to consider one of those bills,” said Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) in a statement.
The House bill weakens the expansion of housing rights included in the Senate VAWA bill (see Memo, 4/27). Specifically, H.R. 4970 would make voluntary the emergency transfer provisions required in S. 1925. The manager’s amendment to H.R. 4970 that was approved in the Committee mark-up struck language requiring that victims be informed of their VAWA rights upon eviction.
Advocates are working to ensure that the broader housing protections included in S. 1925 and in H.R. 4271, the alternative House VAWA reauthorization bill introduced by Representative Moore (D-WI), are included in the final VAWA bill. Many national advocacy organizations, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition, signed a letter in opposition to H.R. 4970.
Click here for an archived markup webcast and all amendments offered.
A copy of the letter in opposition to H.R. 4970 is attached.