The Capitol is seen at sunrise in Washington, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- President Obama said Thursday he will sign the sweeping expansion of
the Violence Against Women Act, following a House vote to renew the law
and bring gays, lesbians and transgender people, Native Americans and
immigrants under its protections.
The House vote was 286-138, with 87 Republicans joining 199 Democrats to pass the bill. The measure now heads to Obama's desk.
more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and
transformed the way we treat victims of abuse," Obama said in a
statement. "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."
credited with raising awareness about abuse of women, expired in 2011.
While many Republicans agreed renewing the law was necessary, some
conservatives raised objections to specific protections for people
because of their sexual orientation and the provisions giving Indian
courts greater jurisdiction in domestic violence cases.
measure easily passed the Senate in the 112th Congress, but stalled in
the House. The House's vote on Thursday represents an about-face for
Republicans, who recognized they took a drubbing at the ballot box among
women voters in the 2012 elections.
Obama won 55%
of the women's vote, following a campaign that touched on issues such as
contraception and funding of Planed Parenthood. Democrats portrayed the
GOP as waging a war on women, hurting the party's standing among a
crucial voting bloc.
The legislation authorizes
funding for programs that help victims, as well as those that prosecute
people accused of domestic violence and sexual assault. There are also
new provisions dealing with stalking that would cover the use of spyware
and video surveillance equipment.
The original law
created a National Domestic Violence Hotline and authorized federal
funding for battered women's shelters. It was written and pushed by Vice
President Biden when he was in the Senate, and passed in 1994.
said renewal and expansion of the law was necessary, noting 40% of mass
shootings start "with the murder targeting their girlfriend, or their
wife, or their ex-wife." Since the law first passed 18 years ago, Biden
noted there has been a 64% reduction in domestic violence.
am pleased that this progress will continue, with new tools for cops
and prosecutors to hold abusers and rapists accountable, and more
support for all victims of these crimes," Biden said in a statement.
final vote on the Violence Against Women Act came only after House
members first rejected a GOP-written version of the bill that did not
include the sweeping expansions. It was rejected on a 166-257 vote,
including the objections of 59 Republicans.
Ellmers, R-N.C., said the GOP version of the bill would protect all
people and not put them into specific categories. She said that measure
was "superior," because it was "all-inclusive."
then adopted a bipartisan Senate version of the bill, which passed
earlier this month on a 78-22 vote. The Senate bill had the support of
all 20 women in the chamber and 24 of its 45 Republicans.
the House's final vote, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a dozen
Democratic women tied the Violence Against Women Act's renewal to the
impending across-the-board spending cuts that kick in Friday. The cuts,
known as sequestration, could trim $20 million authorized to enforce the
"It is specific, it is large, it is substantial and it must be avoided," Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
Donna Edwards, D-Md., criticized Republicans for passing the bill a day
before budget cuts will "take a sledgehammer" to programs that support
victims of domestic violence. "This is shameful," she said.