By Ramsey Cox – 02/04/13 06:09 PM ET
The Senate voted 85-8 to proceed to the consideration of a bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on Monday, February 4, 2013. The Senate will resume work on S. 47, which stalled last year over differences between the House and Senate versions, on Thursday after the Senate returns from a two-day retreat. Both the House and Senate passed their own versions during the 112th Congress, but neither chamber took up the other’s version. The Senate-version of VAWA extends protections for victims of domestic violence to Native Americans, LGBT victims and immigrants — this time without requiring more revenue. The Senate bill also prohibits discrimination against LGBT victims in grant programs to help victims, and would let illegal immigrants stay in the country to receive help if they are victims of domestic violence or rape.VAWA provides grants to victims of domestic violence in order to encourage victims to leave their abusive situations. Some feel they can’t get away from their abusers because they might not have another form of family income, so the grants can provide housing assistance and cellphones for victims. Under this reauthorization bill, these programs would continue for another five years.
The Senate also added the SAFER Act to S. 47, which helps law enforcement agencies address nearly 300,000 rape kit backlogs waiting to be analyzed across the country.