Johnson backs, Thune opposes renewal of Violence Against Women Reauthorization ActNoem said she looks forward to the House ironing out disagreements.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
South Dakota’s two senators split on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which passed the Senate Tuesday.
Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat, voted yes, while Republican John Thune voted no. The bill passed 78-22, with all Democratic senators, as well as all Republican women senators and some male Republicans, supporting it.
All 22 no votes came from male Republicans.
The law was first passed in 1994, but it lapsed in 2011. An effort to renew it in 2012 failed when the Senate and House could not reach a compromise on the bills each approved.
The bill passed by the Senate Tuesday now heads to the House, where Republican leaders there are forging their own version.
A sticking point for some opponents is a provision in the bill that would allow tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians accused of assaulting Indian women on reservations. Republican senators tried twice to remove that from the bill but failed both times.
Johnson said the success in the Senate pleased him.
“This bill helps provide a variety of resources to survivors of domestic violence and protects more Americans from violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence,” he said in a release.
“It also includes important provisions to provide necessary and adequate protection to American Indian women who are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence.”
Johnson said since the Senate has twice passed the reauthorization with a supermajority, the Republican-controlled House should support it.
Thune said despite his vote he supports the concept.
“The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has always been a bipartisan issue and, as the father of two daughters, one I feel strongly about,” he said.
“Ensuring that we provide the tools necessary to help prevent and respond to violence against women is something both sides of the aisle can agree upon,” Thune said.
“I remain supportive of VAWA, and voted in favor of an alternative bill offered by Senator Grassley that would have ensured that all victims — both male and female — received assistance, reduced waste and overlap between the various programs, and did not raise the deficit.
“No one on either side of the aisle wants to see this program end, but I want to ensure that we produce a bill that protects victims and guarantees that the money provided for the programs reaches those in greatest need.”
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said: As a woman, a wife and a mother, I want every protection available for my children and for other women against violence – that’s why I was a leading voice and a cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act in the House last Congress. Democrats and Republicans agree that this is important legislation that needs to be reauthorized. While there are areas of disagreement, we all believe in the core purpose of the legislation and we need to work through the legislative process to resolve these differences.”
Last spring, Noem said she supported a GOP version that did not include additions to the original law to offer expanded protections for gays, lesbians and Native Americans.
“You know, traditionally this bill has been a bipartisan bill and our goal when we looked at this legislation … was to continue on the priorities that the original legislation did in 1994,” she said on April 25.