Senator Patrick Leahy says one of his top priorities in the current lame duck session of Congress is the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Leahy earlier this year that would extend the law for another 5 years but the bill has not been considered by the House.
Leahy says the reauthorization of the law is essential to provide critical funds to domestic violence programs around the country.
"Now with the Violence Against Women Act, we have things that actually help women, help women escape violence, help them have places where they can go if they’re subject to violence and it has helped hundreds of thousands of women all over the country," Leahy said.
House leaders say they oppose Leahy’s bill because it extends legal protections to domestic violence victims who are gay, lesbian, American Indian or an undocumented immigrant.
Leahy says GOP House leaders are being shortsighted and he says it’s important to realize that most law enforcement groups strongly support this change.
"I mean their attitude was ‘a victim is a victim is a victim’, and you don’t say ‘okay, you got shot we can do something for you, but I’m sorry this other person who got shot we can’t do anything for them,’"Leahy said. "That’s not the way America works, that’s not the way that law enforcement works."
Although the law expired at the end of September, these domestic violence programs are still receiving funds based on a stop gap budget measure but Leahy says he’s concerned about the future of these programs if the reauthorization bill isn’t passed by the end of the year.