President Obama Signs Violence Against Women Act: Ensures Justice System Will Respond to All Crimes Against Women (Video)
Mar 07, 2013 03:38 PM EST
President Barack Obama signed into law a bill passed by both the Democratic Senate and the Republican House a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.
The law ensures the criminal justice system will respond to all kinds of crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, according to the White House, and reported by USA Today.
The renewal of the bill is seen as a political victory for Obama, and an expansion of the existing act. The president said the original law "changed our culture," but the law strengthens protections for victims who are attacked on tribal land. It also makes clear that lesbians, gays and immigrants should have equal access to the law's programs, according to the Associated Press.
A key provision of the expanded law strengthens protections for victims who are attacked on tribal land. Vice President Joe Biden, who as a senator wrote and sponsored the original bill in 1994, also spoke at the ceremony.
White House press secretary Jay Carney called the extension "a very important milestone" that would give law enforcement new tools to respond to domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
Although the law was renewed twice in the past with little resistance, it lapsed in 2011 when Republicans and Democrats were unable to agree on a bill to renew it.
The Republican-controlled House initially rejected a Senate-passed version making clear that lesbians, gays and immigrants would have equal access to the law's programs. The Senate bill also allowed tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians who attack their Indian partners on tribal lands, giving Native American authorities the ability to go after crimes that federal prosecutors, for lack of resources, often decline to pursue.
House Republicans ultimately capitulated and allowed a vote on an almost identical version of the bill in February; It passed 286-138.
The Violence Against Women Act set the standard for how to protect women, and also men, from domestic abuse and creating the grounds to prosecute abusers. It is credited with helping reduce domestic violence incidents by two-thirds since its inception in 1994, according to state data.