Amy Klobuchar Touts Domestic Violence Act on Dakota County Stop
The Violence Against Women Act is headed to committee after the U.S. Senate passed its version with bipartisan support, but the House version omits 'key provisions.'
The act—originally drafted in 1994 by then Sen. Joe Biden—passed the U.S. Senate 68-31 on Apr. 26 after receiving support from Democrats and Republicans, including all 17 female senators.
Since its inception VAWA has allocated billions of dollars to better support victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Its secondary goal is to establish a law enforcement apparatus to more effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators.
Joined by Dakota County leaders Sheriff Dave Bellows and Attorney Jim Backstrom, Sen. Klobuchar told attendees that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of VAWA in May, but that the House version missed the mark.
"It's a tough time in Congress right now but the truth is we've got two bills that are close, that have passed both the Senate and House, so hopefully we'll be able to get it done," Klobuchar told Patch. "Both Houses have passed different versions. The Senate has passed the more bipartisan version, so we're hoping the final version is closer to ours."
While the Senate's version of the Act was supported by 15 Republicans, the House version was widely opposed by conservative Republicans who disagreed with extending protection to illegal immigrants, LGBT couples and Native Americans—when crimes occur on reservations.
"Victims of domestic violence are never just one person," Klobuchar said. "It is entire families and entire communities that are affected."
Sheriff Bellows added: "At any one time, Dakota County Jail houses around 300 inmates. I inevitably see the names of children whose parents I arrested when I first started out. One of the biggest issues we face is the cycle of violence and how to break that cycle."
"(The House version) did not include key provisions to meet the needs of all victims of domestic and sexual violence," Sen. Leahy said in a statement June 12. "Saving the lives of victims of domestic violence should be above politics. Yet politics seem to have gotten in the way ... ."
According to Sen. Leahy's website, the 2012 reauthorization bill includes an increased focus on sexual assault, including the addition of new purpose areas to support the efforts of sexual assault coalitions working in the states and provisions to help reduce rape kit backlogs.
Because the House and Senate versions of VAWA are so different, a bipartisan committee will be appointed to negotiate a resolution and draft a bill that can be passed in both Houses.
Klobuchar is running this year for re-election to the U.S. Senate, facing Rosemount Republican Kurt Bills for the seat.