WVLT -- Despite some opposition, the Senate voted Tuesday to renew the Violence Against Women Act with new provisions to ensure gays and lesbians, immigrant and Native American women have equal access to the bill’s anti-domestic violence programs.
The 78-22 vote to reauthorize the act is now in the hands of the House, where Republican leaders are working to come up with their own version.
Local supporters of the act, like Elizabeth Newton, hope it’s revived.
She was married to an abusive husband for 10 years and told Local 8 News she doesn’t want anyone else to live the way she once did.
“There were no services available for me. I kind of had to find my own way and I don't want anyone else to go through that,” she said.
After 10 years, she got the courage to walk away but that’s not always the case.
Amy Dilworth, the Executive Director of the Family Justice Center, has seen lives saved and lost.
“I sit with people of all shapes, sizes, colors and of all types. All that matters to me is that these people are safe and that they’re protected,” she said.
That’s why she hopes the House passes the bill.
“I don't understand why we wouldn't want to protect anyone and everyone from violence?” she said. “I can hear the arguments about money or figuring out the legalities but for me, it just comes back to the human issue. We can have all those arguments but we're looking at human life.”
Dilworth said anyone in a controlling and abusive relationship should have access to help. Sometimes it’s a matter of life or death.
Senators Alexander and Corker voted in favor of the bill, which will provide more than $600 million to pay for programs helping victims of abuse.
Both the House and the Senate passed bills last year, but House Republicans balked at the expansions in the act pushed by Senate Democrats, and no compromise was reached.