April 25, 2012 — Senate Republicans on Monday introduced a bill (S 2338) to serve as an alternative to Democratic legislation (S 1925) to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports.
The GOP bill would not add to the federal deficit, a change that addresses one of Republicans' main criticisms of the Democratic version. The Republican bill would double the minimum federal sentence for rape to 10 years and mandate a minimum sentence of one year for possessing child pornography.
The bill also would address Republicans' concerns about Democrats' proposal to make it easier for immigrants who experience abuse to receive temporary legal status so they can obtain assistance. Under the Democratic version, immigrants could use unused "U visas" from previous years to gain temporary legal status. The GOP measure would maintain the current annual limit on U visas, according to "Floor Action Blog." Republicans cited a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the visa provision would add $105 million to the deficit, in part because recipients would be able to access federal programs like Medicaid.
Prospects for Bills
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said they have agreed in principle to quickly consider the VAWA reauthorization (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 4/25). McConnell said he hopes to have the reauthorization finished by the end of the week, when Congress will adjourn for recess.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are expected to release their own version of the bill sometime next week, according to Politico (Sherman/Bresnahan, Politico, 4/24).