In a bipartisan vote of 68 - 31, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which gives women protections and recourse against domestic violence and abuse. The measure includes protections for LGBT couples, provides visas for undocumented immigrants who have been victims of domestic violence and trafficking, expands the definition of those who qualify for U-Visas to those who have suffered harassment, and gives Native American officials authority in cases of voilence against Native American women by non-Native Americans. Republicans tried to pass a version of the bill that did not include these groups, but were unsuccessful.
The bill still has a long road to go before being approved. Members of the House of Representatives said they planned to work on their own parallel version of the bill, and a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill would be negotiated in conference.
First passed in 1994, VAWA provides services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.