The full Assembly on Thursday approved a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats - Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera, L. Grace Spencer, Gordon Johnson and Troy Singleton - condemning the House of Representatives for failing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and urging prompt action to reinstate the critical law.
"Despite the significant show of bipartisan support in the Senate for continued and expanded federal assistance for victims of domestic violence, the House Republican Leadership failed to take up and pass the bipartisan and inclusive legislation passed by the Senate," said Lampitt. "This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed promptly."
The measure (AR-138), approved by a vote of 71-0-4, condemns the failure of the Majority Leadership in the United States House of Representatives to take action to pass the VAWA, which effectively expired on September 30, 2011, and respectfully urges prompt action to pass such legislation in the 113th Congress.
"The wide range of services funded by the VAWA even prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to call it 'one of the most effective pieces of legislation enacted to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking,'" said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "With over five million domestic violence incidents occurring every year, we simply can't afford to have these services lapse."
In April 2012, the U.S. Senate passed legislation, by a strong bipartisan vote of 68 to 31, to reauthorize VAWA in an expanded form that would have extended its protections to some 30 million additional people who were not covered under the original law - lesbian and transsexual women, undocumented immigrants, and Native American women living in tribal jurisdictions.
However, the House of Representatives let the 112th Congress end without reauthorizing the act. The Senate, just this week, passed the measure again, which now awaits action by the House once more.
"The failure of the House Republican Leadership to allow this critical legislation to move forward is a failure of moral leadership and, quite frankly, shows a shameful indifference to the needs of all women who have been subjected to, or threatened by, domestic violence," said Spencer (D-Essex). "The recent economic downturn placed a further strain on domestic violence victims and survivors, making this legislation all the more needed."
"This failure by the House Majority Leadership is in blatant disregard to the will of the people, especially given the bipartisan, supermajority support for this legislation in the Senate," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "Two million injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused each year as a result of domestic violence. How many people must be endangered before the House is prompted to act?"
"Even a late-stage intervention by the Vice President could not win support from the House Majority Leadership," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "It's time for everyone, lawmakers and voters alike, to come together and send a strong message that this legislation needs to be reauthorized immediately for the sake of domestic violence victims everywhere."
Duly authenticated copies of this resolution will now be transmitted to the presiding officers of the United States Congress and each member of New Jersey's Congressional delegation.