The Violence Against Women Act first won passage, and enactment, almost two decades ago. Congress twice has reauthorized the law without a hint of controversy. That hasn’t been the case this third time, legislation bogged down, caught in a familiar divide, a new breed of Republicans warning about excessive government power.
Fortunately, on Tuesday, a bipartisan majority of the Senate, including Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, sent a strong message about the need to act. The 78-22 vote involved a larger margin than a year ago when the Senate backed an almost identical bill. Now the task falls to the House to act with similar support from Democrats and Republicans.
That effort was helped this week as U.S. Rep. David Joyce and 16 other House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the majority leader, calling for immediate action on a bill that would attract bipartisan support. In a separate statement, Joyce stressed that as a former Geauga County prosecutor, he has seen how the act benefits women who have been abused and aids law enforcement officials handling cases.
Reauthorization of this landmark legislation shouldn’t be difficult. The Senate now has approved a version in line with the requirement of Joyce and his fellow Republicans. The speaker shouldn’t delay in having the House vote.