WASHINGTON: The White House is threatening to veto a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, saying the Republican-written bill doesn't go far enough to protect battered illegal immigrants, Native Americans or gays. The House of Representatives votes on it Wednesday.
The Republican proposals, which differ from a Senate-passed version, "take direct aim at immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault" and "jeopardize victims by placing them directly in harm's way," the White House said in a statement.
The overwhelming majority of domestic violence victims are women - a critical constituency this presidential election year. The renewal of the act, reauthorized twice with overwhelming bipartisan support, is the latest example of partisan warfare this year over women's issues.
The Violence Against Women Act was established in 1994 to provide taxpayer money for the prevention of domestic abuse and the protection of victims. The last re-authorization, in 2005, expired in 2011.
Majority Democrats in the Senate would expand the law to specifically protect gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender Americans from discrimination and abuse. The Senate bill passed, 68-31.
A Republican-written House version is strongly opposed by advocacy groups for women, gays and Native Americans. The House version omits the Senate's references to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders and does not allow Native American authorities to prosecute non-Indians who commit abuse on tribal land.
The new version does restore some confidentiality for immigrant victims of abuse, according to a Democratic official who was not authorized to speak on the issue publicly. But the White House said it still allows abusers to become aware of their victims' allegations.