December 7, 2012 — Vice President Biden and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are in negotiations to reauthorize a version of the Violence Against Women Act that includes protections for Native American women, the Huffington Post reports (Bendery, Huffington Post, 12/6).
The House and Senate have been at an impasse over reauthorizing the law since they each approved different versions earlier this year (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/13). The Senate passed a bipartisan bill (S 1925) in April with specific protections for undocumented immigrants, members of the lesbian bisexual gay and transgender community, and Native Americans. The version (HR 4970) the House passed in May omitted such protections.
The Biden-Cantor talks suggest a "real possibility" that a bill could advance in the final weeks of the congressional session, according to the Huffington Post. In the aftermath of the presidential election, House Republicans could be more inclined to support an inclusive bill that appeals to women and minorities, the Huffington Post reports.
However, two sources familiar with the talks said that Cantor is refusing to accept any added protections for Native American women that would expand tribal jurisdiction. The sources add that Cantor's staff has proposed other solutions to violence against women on tribal lands that do not affect jurisdiction (Huffington Post, 12/6).
CNN Op-Ed Criticizes House Bill's Protections for Immigrants
House Republicans are "proposing a dramatic and dangerous rollback in [VAWA's] protection for immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking," Leslye Orloff -- a professor and director of the National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project at American University, who helped draft protections for immigrants in the bill -- writes in a CNN opinion piece.
Orloff writes that the House version "undermines two decades of relief for immigrant victims who suffer continuing abuse at the hands of U.S. citizens or permanent resident spouses or parents." The bill "breaks with that history" by restricting the availability of U-visas, which provide legal status and work authorization to undocumented immigrants who have been victims of certain violent crimes.
Orloff notes that the "crimes suffered by U-visa applicants and recipients are predominantly domestic violence, child and elder abuse, at 46%; rape, human trafficking and sexual assault, at 29%; felonious assault, murder and torture, at 11%; and kidnapping and false imprisonment, at 8%." She writes, "These are serious crimes indeed, and it is imperative that congressional leaders summon the political will to reauthorize the act before the end of December 2012" (Orloff, CNN, 12/6).