COLUMBIA - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill held a press conference Friday to push for swift passage of the Violence Against Women Act. McCaskill described the act as non-controversial. "This is not something we should be fighting about. This is a priority for the women who live in Boone County," McCaskill said.
Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight joined McCaskill in calling on the U.S. House to end its nine-month long delay to pass the legislation. The delay involves concerns about a provision that would allow tribal courts to prosecute non-Native American men accused of crimes against women on tribal lands, and whether the act should include the gay and lesbian population.
Colleen Coble of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence said the act is the entire federal structure of response in laws and programs to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. "It is the funding mechanism for prosecutors and victim service providers to work with law enforcement to make sure that women and their children are safe and that their offenders are held accountable," said Coble. "It's our crucial federal law."
The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday with a vote of 78-22. The act awaits consideration in the U.S. House. A similar measure passed the Senate last year, but never received a vote in the House. The act first passed in 1994. Its renewal in 2000 passed with a 95-0 vote in the Senate and a 371-1 vote in the House. In 2005, the renewal passed with unanimous approval in the Senate and a 415-4 vote in the House.
"I'm certain that when constituents around the state call and contact their members of Congress, we'll once again get back to the recognition that this is a shared value," said Coble. "Ending violence against women is a shared value among Missourians and we really want our members of Congress to pass the reauthorization and to be part of that work."
There is no scheduled time for when the House will address the Violence Against Women Act.