Updated 2:39 p.m. | House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi penned a letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Monday criticizing House Republicans’ decision to only temporarily extend the soon-to-expire Violence Against Women Act.
House Republicans plan to extend VAWA through Dec. 7 as part of a fiscal 2019 government funding package that would provide yearlong funding for the departments of Defense; Labor, Health and Human Services; and Education and short-term funding for a handful of other agencies. The House is expected to vote on the package the week of Sept. 24. VAWA is set to expire Sept. 30.
“Republicans’ decision to include only a short-term VAWA reauthorization in the must-pass ominibus spending bill is nothing short of an abdication of our responsibilities to women in our country,” Pelosi said in her letter to Ryan. “Democrats’ support for keeping government open does not diminish our resolve to ensure that a strong, long-term VAWA reauthorization be passed immediately.”
Specifically, the California Democrat asked the speaker to schedule a vote on the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2018, a bill by Texas Democratic Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, that would update the law and reauthorize it for five years.
“As Members of Congress, it is our responsibility to ensure that every woman, in every part of our society, can live free from violence,” Pelosi wrote. “Yet, the continued refusal over many years of House Republicans to extend VAWA’s critical protections to include vulnerable communities, particularly Native American, immigrant and LGBTQ communities, represents a blatant dereliction of that duty.”
A Ryan spokeswoman said that as work continued toward a broader agreement, “an extension is necessary to ensure there is no lapse in the program.”
“We are confident our Democratic colleagues will join us in ensuring that doesn’t happen,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.
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