Things Aren't Looking Great For The Violence Against Women Act
5 min read
fairly difficult
Legislation to renew the landmark 1994 law has stalled in the Senate, where Republicans aren't even united on their own bill.
WASHINGTON ― It's bad enough that Congress let the Violence Against Women Act lapse in February. But 10 months later, legislation to renew the landmark 1994 law has hit a wall in the Senate, where Republicans aren't even united behind their own bill.

The House did its part in April to re-up VAWA, which, to date, has provided billions of dollars in grants for programs aimed at combatting domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. It passed a bipartisan bill that renews VAWA for five more years and expands protections for vulnerable populations like LGBTQ and Native American victims of domestic violence. It also includes a gun safety provision that would prohibit people from owning firearms who have been convicted of abusing their dating partners, closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole" in current law.

The Senate didn't do much until last month, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that she and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) had failed to come up with a bipartisan bill after months of trying. Feinstein went on to lead all 47 Democrats in endorsing the House-passed bill and introducing it in the Senate. Ernst responded by accusing them of playing politics with a bill that can't pass the Senate and unveiled her party's own bill.

Now, neither bill is moving. And the reality is that neither will pass the Senate anyway.

Despite the House-passed bill having bipartisan support, the National Rifle Association opposes its gun safety provision and has warned that a vote in favor of the bill will hurt lawmakers' NRA rating. Senate Republicans take too much money from the NRA to be willing to mess up that cash flow over a vote on a VAWA bill.

Ernst's bill, meanwhile, has its own problems. It strips out the gun safety provision. It strips out the added protections for LGBTQ and Native victims of violence. It doesn't have many GOP co-sponsors, which signals that some of Ernst's own colleagues don't like it.

Most glaringly, Ernst only has three of the Senate's…
Jennifer Bendery
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