Uh oh. The "Do-Nothing" Congress seems to have...done something.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) spoke on the House floor Thursday, urging colleagues to vote for the version of VAWA passed by the Senate that protects all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In what House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) called “probably the first positive act we’ve taken this Congress,” House Democrats joined with 87 Republicans to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday. The bill will grant more than $650 million over five years to states and local governments to provide transitional housing, legal advice, and other services to victims. VAWA will also include protections for immigrants and LGBT people, and grants Native American tribal courts the authority to prosecute non-American Indians.
The bill, which was passed by the Senate earlier this month, is aimed at protecting women against domestic violence. It will grant more than $650 million over five years to states and local governments to provide services such as transitional housing and legal advice to victims. It will now go to President Barack Obama who is expected to sign it into law.
House Republicans did object to the fact that the bill includes a provision that allows Native American authorities to prosecute non-American Indians in tribal courts. It also includes protections for immigrants and lesbian, gay, bisxual and transgender people.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), head of the House immigration subcommittee, was one of 138 Republicans to vote against the bill. In the end, 286 lawmakers voted in favor, including 87 Republicans and every Democrat. Gowdy called the vote "constitutionally suspect" in a statement.
"I appreciate the work of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, victims' advocates and service providers," he said. "They deserve better, and the victims of domestic violence deserve better, than a patently unconstitutional bill."
House Republicans had previously introduced a more limited version of the act, but it was voted down Thursday before the vote on the Senate bill.
ABC/Univision broke down the details of that bill earlier this month after it passed the Senate. Click here to read that report.