Congress fails to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act

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(WEAU)--Political gridlock in Washington leaves women in domestic violence situations unprotected.
For the first time since it passed in 1994, Congress has failed to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act or VOWA. The law gives money to police and special service groups to fight domestic violence and sexual assault.

The senate passed the re-authorization bill adding three new measures; protecting LGBT relationships, immigrant women who may not be naturalized citizens or here legally and Native American women. The House stripped those measures from the bill causing the White house to reject it.

House leaders argued the new measure added to the bill, which would have allowed tribal courts to prosecute non-native men who commit violent crimes against women on tribal lands, created a precedent for tribal courts to possibly gain more authority. Executive director of the Ho-Chunck Nation Social Services Elizabeth Haller says she is disappointed in that decision.

"It’s seems like they are more worried about the non-native perpetrator’s rights than what is happening to native women," said Haller.

But the impact of the bill failing will not just affect Native American nations, Executive director of the Bolton Refuge House Pat Stein says the act funds and supports county and local programs right here in the Chippewa Valley.

And she says killing the bill hurts all women.
“Really ultimately what it did is state that the government doesn't find the needs of women important enough and didn't show support for women’s issues and then instead stuck it to a small group of people," said Stein.