Rep. John Yarmuth fighting for passage of the Violence Against - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Rep. John Yarmuth fighting for passage of the Violence Against Women Act

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A bill designed to help victims of domestic violence has resulted in a political fight. The Violence Against Women Act is causing controversy from Washington DC to Louisville.

At the Center for Women and Families, supporters of the Violence Against Women Act say it's needed to fund programs that help victims of domestic violence.

Five years ago, the smiles were few on Shannon's face. Her husband physically and verbally abused her, until she escaped with her three children.  "I now realized, through the Center for Women and Families, that I have a voice," she said.

Shannon is using that voice to join Congressman John Yarmuth and others in support of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA.  "I will forever, forever, be grateful and stand for women's rights against domestic violence," Shannon told those gathered for a news conference.

"The Violence Against Women act is crucial to the services we provide," added Marta Miranda, President and CEO of the Center for Women and Families.

VAWA originally passed 19 years ago, but was allowed to lapse in 2011. The Senate passed a re-authorization last week, but the bill is now stuck in the House.

"It is unconscionable that Congress has not re-authorized one of the most successful programs in combating this violence," said Yarmuth, a Democrat from Kentucky's 3rd District.

Both Kentucky Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell voted against VAWA.  "Many of the things that the Violence Against Women Act wants to accomplish are better accomplished at the local level," said Paul.

Paul also says the problem was the $600 million price tag.  "Even if it's for a good cause, if you come to me for diabetes, or hemophilia or violence against women, which are all noble causes that I support, I still have to ask myself, can we borrow the money from China for it?" he said.

In a statement, McConnell questioned whether some new provisions in VAWA added by Senate Democrats are constitutional.

But Yarmuth says without it, Louisville would lose $700,000 in funding for domestic violence programs.  "Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, often face a lot of uncertainties in their lives. Whether their members of Congress will stand up for their safety should not be one of them," he said.

Despite the controversies, Yarmuth claims that the bill would pass easily, if the House leadership would allow it to come up for a vote.

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