February 8, 2013 — The Senate on Thursday voted 65-34 to defeat an amendment (S AMDT 14) that would have prevented funding in the Violence Against Women Act from aiding immigrants; Native Americans; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, the Los Angeles Times' "Politics Now" reports. The provisions have been key sticking points in attempts to reauthorize VAWA after failed attempts to pass the legislation last year.
Senators on Monday are scheduled to vote on the underlying bill (S 47), which is sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) (Venteicher, "Politics Now," Los Angeles Times, 2/7).
Leahy's bill includes a provision that would allow tribal courts to prosecute U.S. citizens charged with assaulting Native American women on reservations (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/5). The defeated amendment -- sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) -- included $25 million in funding to allow federal judges and prosecutors in tribal areas to take up such cases, but it stripped the language allowing the tribal courts to prosecute.
Grassley's proposal also sought changes regarding a mechanism that allows immigrants who are survivors of intimate partner violence to seek legal status. Under his proposal, immigration officials would have been permitted to interview an alleged abuser before deciding whether to grant legal status to the accuser, which Grassley said would prevent fraudulent claims from "foreign nationals [who] prey on U.S. citizens simply to get a green card."
In addition, the amendment would have allowed repeat drunk drivers to be deported, created various mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of sexually violent crimes, and added new auditing requirements and restrictions on the use of VAWA grants (Anderson, Roll Call, 2/7).
The tribal court provision was a major sticking point last year, when House and Senate lawmakers passed different versions of the VAWA legislation that were never reconciled.
This year, Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have proposed giving accused abusers who are not Native Americans the right to a hearing in federal court if they believe they are not receiving a fair trial in tribal courts. Cole said he has been meeting with those involved in the issue -- including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) -- to find "common ground" (Abrams, AP/Miami Herald, 2/7).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership