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July 31, 2012

Chicago – NNEDV today joined U.S. Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) and Robert J. Dold (R-IL-10) in urging the House and Senate to swiftly pass a bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that meets the needs of all victims.

Last reauthorized in 2005, VAWA expired in 2011. Although both the House and Senate have passed separate legislation to reauthorize VAWA, no progress has been made in resolving differences between the bills in order for the president to sign.

"On behalf of the millions of victims we represent," said Sue Else, NNEDV's president, "I want to express my deepest gratitude to Representatives Biggert and Dold for rejecting the stalemate on this lifesaving legislation. They have identified a path to move forward and are encouraging their colleagues in Congress to swiftly pass a strong, bipartisan bill that meets the needs of all victims."

Both representatives voted against the House version of the bill passed in May that did not provide protections for Native American women and LGBT victims. It would have also rolled back protections for battered immigrants. At a press conference today, they highlighted the need for these specific protections while simultaneously calling on their colleagues to put politics aside to finish the bill for all victims.

"Domestic violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, and our laws should reflect that," said Congresswoman Biggert, a key co-sponsor of the last VAWA reauthorization in 2005. "We cannot allow VAWA to fall victim to partisan gridlock. House and Senate leaders should act now to resolve their differences and send the President a strong bill that provides lifesaving services for victims of abuse, assault and rape."

"I believe it is important that the House work with the Senate to get this vital legislation signed into law. The Violence Against Women Act should be reauthorized in a broad, bipartisan manner, and we should ensure that all groups, ethnicities, backgrounds, and age groups are fully protected. I urge my colleagues to put people before politics and progress before partisanship and move this bill forward so that it can be signed into law immediately," said Congressman Dold.

While the House bill excluded a number of vital protections and rolled back longstanding protections for immigrant victims, the two bills share a number of new provisions that are critical for victim safety. Both bills include expansions and improvements to the landmark housing provisions that prohibit discrimination and eviction of victims in public and assisted housing.

"Victim services providers are shocked that this legislation has stalled because of politics," said Else. "It has always been a bipartisan bill – victim-centered in its approach and lifesaving in its results. The claims that the bills are too far apart to reconcile are simply not true. Lifesaving provisions in both bills will not see the light of day if no bill passes."