U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, who will begin representing Los Gatos next January, decried this week a GOP plan to renew the Violence Against Women Act as undoing many of the protections enshrined in the original law.
The Act is up for reauthorization in Congress, and House Republican Sandy Adams (R-Fla) introduced a bill, H.R. 4970, to that end. But the proposal is a big step back for women's safety, said Eshoo in a statement.
“Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has been an essential tool in protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence, and it has always been bipartisan,” Rep. Eshoo said. “The House Republican’s version of VAWA unwinds the long-standing commitment to lifesaving assistance for the most vulnerable victims. It eliminates confidentiality protections for immigrant victims, imposes broad and imprecise mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders, lacks protections for LGBT victims, and limits resources for victims living in subsidized housing or on college campuses. In every case, this is unacceptable.”
Adams said this week, however, that Democrats are playing politics with women's safety, and that the bill should be passed without delay.
"If you vote against this bill today, you will vote to deny help to millions of victims ... in the name of political gamesmanship," said Adams, the bill's sponsor, according to The Huffington Post.
The original VAWA was passed in 1994 with bi-partisan support, and was designed to improve criminal justice and community-based response for victims of abuse.
Eshoo has co-sponsored alternate legislation, H.R. 4271, which would extend and add to the existing law.
“The legislation reflects input from more than 2,000 law enforcement, court, prosecution, legal services, and victim services professionals across the country,” according to Eshoo's statement. “In addition to expanding protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence, it renews successful programs, consolidates 13 duplicative programs into four, and creates new accountability initiatives."
The National Organization for Women did not mince words Wednesday in their reponse to H.R. 4970. A statement issued on its website reads:
"Extremists in the House may resent being called out for their War on Women, but their atrocious bill is part and parcel of it — and women are not fooled by the attempts of H.R. 4970's supporters to characterize serious policy differences as mere election year politicking."