House GOP to move less ‘controversial’ version of Violence Against Women Act

House Republicans on Wednesday said they intend to vote on a version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that doesn’t contain controversial provisions on same-sex couples and illegal immigrants.

One day after Senate Republicans declined to block a Democratic version of VAWA, House Republicans said they would move forward with a bill that mirrors a substitute from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

"We're still in the drafting phase, but I will tell you we are not going to be looking at the controversial issues that will detract from what is actually VAWA,” said freshman Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), who is sponsoring the VAWA reauthorization bill in the House.

Senate Democrats have included provisions in their version of VAWA that would add protections for same-sex couples, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans. The bill is expected to pass the Senate this week.

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With Democrats attempting to paint the GOP as waging a “war on women,” GOP leaders made sure to give female Republican lawmakers the spotlight at Wednesday’s announcement. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), GOP Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) were on stage for the bill unveiling, but none of them spoke.

The lead role instead went to Adams, a former sheriff and survivor of domestic violence.

“We need to make sure that we don't allow this bill to become a political issue,” Adams said. “It is a bipartisan bill and it should stay as such.” 

Adams said her version of the Violence Against Women Act provides for more accountability to ensure the funding is put to good use.

“We're looking to streamline it, and we want to make sure that the services are provided through the grant funding, more of the funding goes to our victim services instead of the bureaucracy.”

The final bill will be introduced before the House breaks for their week-long district work period on Friday, Adams said.

The Judiciary Committee is likely to hold a markup on the reauthorization when the House returns the week of May 7, which means the House could act on its version of the reauthorization in mid-May, according to Adams.