House Judiciary Committee votes to extend Violence Against Women Act

March 13, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee approved an update to the Violence Against Women Act on Wednesday, overcoming objections from Republicans who said the legislation is straying too far from what the law is supposed to be.

The bill cleared the panel on a 22-11 vote and heads to the House floor, where leaders say it will get a vote early next month.

The legislation would expand gun controls by denying firearms purchases to accused abusers in dating relationships, on par with the law for married couples. It would also reaffirm jurisdiction of Indian tribal courts to hear cases involving non-Native American suspected abusers.

The 1991 law expired last month after Democrats blocked an extension in the omnibus spending bill. They said they wanted to work on updates.

Republicans objected to their version Wednesday, questioning the expansion of gun controls and how transgender women should be treated in shelters for abused women.

One area that seemed to draw bipartisan support was addressing female circumcision. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, offered an amendment to promote assistance for victims of female genital mutilation.

He ultimately withdrew the proposal to rework it, but committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said they’ll include the language in the bill when it goes to the floor.

Though the law expired last month, grant money is still flowing. But advocates worry organizations and programs relying on those grants will run out of funds if the bill isn’t reauthorized soon.