Senate reauthorizes domestic violence act

April 26, 2012 at 8:59 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Thursday voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which faces a partisan dispute when it reaches the House.

The Senate voted 68-31 to reauthorize the act after Democrats, who control the chamber, refused to allow votes on a Republican version of the bill, The Washington Post reported. The bill the Senate approved had 61 Senate co-sponsors, including eight Republicans.

House Republicans oppose several provisions in the Senate bill and are proposing an alternative version in the House, the newspaper said.

The law was enacted in 1994, and was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005. The bill approved Thursday includes new provisions that would, among other things, establish programs to promote awareness on college campuses of domestic violence-related issues.

Senate Republicans objected to a provision barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in programs funded by the law, and a provision allowing law enforcement agencies to issue more visas to undocumented immigrants who help prosecute perpetrators of certain domestic violence.

Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement following the Senate vote urging the House to "move quickly and pass the bill."

"This law has been overwhelmingly successful since it was first enacted 17 years ago to improve the criminal justice response to this violent crime and to assist those who experience this abuse," Biden said. "Since then, the law has twice been reauthorized with the broad support of members of both parties. It should still be bigger than politics today."

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