The Obama administration is putting its muscle behind a national effort to reauthorize an 18-year-old law that protects women from violence and other abuse.
Vice President Joe Biden headlined a forum at the White House on Wednesday to promote the Violence Against Women Act, which has directed billions of dollars over the years to help states and localities beef up investigations into acts of violence committed against female victims. The White House credits the law with having reduced yearly incidents of violent crimes against women by 50 percent.
The law expired last year, but a re-authorization measure introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. Several Republicans, however, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), say they won’t support the bill when it comes to the floor unless a litany of provisions are removed.
“VAWA is meant to protect victims of violence,” Grassley said back in February. “It shouldn’t be an avenue to expand immigration law or to give additional benefits to people here unlawfully.”
Biden, who drafted the original version of the bill, which then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994, said today that renewing it should be a no-brainer.
“The idea we’re still fighting about this in the Congress, that this is even a debatable issue, is truly sad,” he said. “It’s not a reflection on the law, it’s a reflection on our inability in this town to deal with something that by now, should just be over in terms of the debate about it.”
In addition to ramping up efforts to extend the law, President Obama today issued a directive requiring all federal agencies to put in place policies to aid domestic violence victims who may be experiencing spill-over effects in the workplace.
“We know that domestic violence doesn’t just stay in the home,” said Biden. “It can extend into the workplace, with devastating effects on its victims and costs that ripple across the economy. Federal employees aren’t immune.”