Republican senator urges movement on VAWA bills

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"I write to encourage congressional leadership to convene a timely and productive Conference Committee that will resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions of legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)," Heller wrote in a letter sent on Thursday.

Heller's letter comes almost a week after Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) feuded on the Senate floor over how to proceed on moving a reauthorization bill into law. McConnell objected when Reid requested unanimous consent for their chamber to replace the House-passed VAWA reauthorization with the Senate version and then move that bill to a conference committee in the House. Instead, McConnell wanted the Senate version to be modified so it would not include language expanding the number of visas available to illegal immigrants who are victims of domestic violence.

Democrats argue that the Senate version, S. 1925, includes necessary protections for Native American women as well as women in same-sex relationships. Republicans, meanwhile, say the House version, H.R. 4970, is adequate and the Democrats' favored version is unnecessarily expansive.

Heller said it's possible for Republican and Democratic leaders to quickly come to an agreement and move forward with the reauthorization.

"While I understand the concerns about moving forward to a conference committee that have been detailed in recent news reports, I believe that the House and Senate leaders can reach a mutually agreeable resolution without further delay if we remember the importance of this legislation in the lives of those who face abuse," Heller continues in the letter. "As a supporter and co-sponsor of this legislation, I hope you will move forward and allow conferees to develop a bill that will further the important goal of reducing violence in all its forms. This bipartisan effort is an example of how members of Congress should be working together to solve the problems facing our nation and protect those who have no voice."

Read the letter below:


VAWA Letter 5.31.12