Congress voted on Wednesday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act after 29 Republicans broke with their party to support the bill, which offered women protections from domestic violence, sexual assault and other harassment.
Congressman Bill Posey of Brevard County voted against it as he did in 2018. The bill passed the house in 2018, but was held up in the Senate with no action.
President Biden, who first introduced the bill as a senator in 1990, celebrated its reauthorization in the House and called on the upper chamber to “strengthen and renew” the law.
Biden said: “This should not be a Democratic or Republican issue — it’s about standing up against the abuse of power and preventing violence.” He then urged a “bipartisan coalition” in the Senate to get the law over the final hurdle.
A number of provisions in the Violence Against Women Act have widespread bipartisan support, such as state grants for sexual assault and domestic violence services, and offers of housing assistance for victims of domestic abuse.
However, Republicans have taken issue with several new or expanded measures in the bill, including the closure of the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” The closure of the loophole would extend the ban on abusers being allowed to own or buy a firearm.
At present, the rule applies to those convicted of violence against former or present spouses—but not those in non-marital relationships.