NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 6, 2013

Our view: Kudos to Congress for passing bill

On behalf of women, children and men who seek protection in shelters across this nation because they are abused, we thank the U.S. House of Representatives for reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

On behalf of law enforcement departments across the country that rely on federal funding to help offset costs of investigating assaults and rapes, we applaud the decision made Thursday not to walk away without a victory. While violent crimes would still have been priority, something else would have taken a back seat without this important funding.

The law, passed in 1994, has been renewed twice before without controversy, but as in many things in Congress these days it was caught up in a partisan battle and allowed to lapse in 2011 even though the Senate easily reauthorized the bill. The House refused it because it was expanded to include lesbians, gays and Native American women. The law, as we see it, was expanded to protect more people than ever before. In our view, it should be expanded to include all.

Thursday’s 286-138 vote came after House lawmakers rejected a more limited approach offered by some Republicans. The Senate version, which passed with ease for the second time earlier this year, was then reintroduced in the House and passed.

We appreciate the efforts to keep this important law in the forefront of lawmakers. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., sponsor of the Senate bill, spoke rationally about the anti-violence bill that should never have become a political lightning rod.

“That is why I applaud moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill,” she told an Associated Press reporter.

We know that many things factor into votes, but the welfare and safety of citizens should never be determined by party platform.

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