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House Passes Violence Against Women Act

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House voted Thursday to pass a Senate-approved version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, sending the bill to President Obama for his signature. An earlier vote on a Republican version of the legislation was voted down.

“The Violence Against Women Act has long ensured that no woman would ever be forced to suffer in silence in the face of domestic violence and abuse,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a statement after the vote. “Today, a bipartisan majority of the House joined the Senate in reaffirming our pledge to America’s women and families, strengthening this landmark law, extending protection to LGBT Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants, and preserving the security of all women.”

“Today is truly a victory for women everywhere,” Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore, one of the chief backers of the bill, added.

With another major piece of legislation passing through the lower chamber behind a majority of Democratic votes, freshmen Rep. Joaquin Castro, said the vote “reaffirms” Congress’s commitment to “uphold the safety and well-being of our constituents above politics.”

The bill was supported by Republicans like House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Budget chairman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and Senate hopeful Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, one of the primary proponents behind the House GOP bill, opposed the Senate version of the bill. House Speaker John Boehner did not cast a vote, as is customary for the Speaker of the House.

Both chambers of Congress passed separate versions of the act in the last Congress, although those efforts expired with the end of the 112th Congress.

President Obama issued the following statement upon the bill’s passage:

I was pleased to see the House of Representatives come together and vote to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse. Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community.  The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice.  I want to thank leaders from both parties -- especially Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Leahy -- for everything they’ve done to make this happen.  Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.

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