Last Thursday, the House passed the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization (S. 47), clearing the legislation for the President’s signature.
S. 47 is a very progressive bill, including titles on enhancing judicial and law enforcement tools to combat violence against women; improving services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and services, protection, and justice for young victims of violence.
The large majority of Republicans – 138 — voted against S. 47, and just 87 voted in favor. Every Democrat in the chamber, 199, all told, voted in favor, allowing the bill to pass.
Our own Congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, sent out an email to his constituents at 10:09 a.m. saying:
“Today, the House is scheduled to vote on the Senate’s version of the Violence Against Women Act. I support that version. Two weeks ago, I signed onto a letter urging House leadership to move to reauthorize VAWA – this is long overdue. I am glad the House is going to consider the Senate’s version of the bill so that we can move forward in ensuring the programs VAWA supports can continue protecting America’s women.”
This was very welcome news, particularly because S. 47 extends protections and benefits of VAWA to what the bill refers to as “underserved populations.”
One has to burrow well down into the text of the bill to find the following definition:
“The term ‘underserved populations’ means populations who face barriers in accessing and using victim services, and includes populations underserved because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, underserved racial and ethnic populations, populations underserved because of special needs (such as language barriers, disabilities, alienage status, or age), and any other population determined to be underserved by the Attorney General or by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as appropriate.”
So here was Rep. Reed on the morning of the vote favoring legislation that would really help out the disadvantaged, including immigrants and the LGBT community. Hallelujah!
Unfortunately, when the vote itself rolled around at 11:56 a.m., Rep. Reed was recorded as “not voting.” Illness was the cause, he later explained. What a shame that our congressman missed this chance to go on record with a vote to protect those who have suffered discrimination, and the less fortunate.