WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Tuesday reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act and sent it to the House, which passed its own version last year.
The Senate vote was 78-22 to extend protection for victims of domestic violence. The new measure extends those protections to American Indians and lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender victims as well as immigrants, The Hill reported.
"Since its passage, the Violence Against Women Act has provided valuable and lifesaving assistance to ... hundreds of thousands of women in America," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement. "Over the last 19 years, the rate of domestic violence against women has dropped by more than 50 percent, but there are many more who still need help."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated more than a third of women have been raped, stalked or suffered physical violence from an intimate partner.
Vice President Joe Biden, who championed the original measure, hailed the Senate action and urged the House to act "without delay."
"Delay isn't an option when three women are still killed by their husbands or boyfriends every day. Delay isn't an option when countless women still live in fear of abuse, and when one in five have been victims of rape. This issue should be beyond debate -- the House should follow the Senate's lead and pass the Violence Against Women Act right away. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue -- it's an issue of justice and compassion," Biden said.