South Florida's congressional Republicans were among 23 of those in their party to vote Wednesday against the GOP version of the Violence Against Women Act. There's no word yet on why Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, David Rivera and Mario Diaz-Balart voted against the bill, but opponents charge it doesn't sufficiently protect gay, lesbian, transgender people, Native Americans and immigrants.
The House of Representatives passed the GOP-sponsored bill 222-205. The 18-year-old law written by then-Sen. Joe Biden dedicates federal resources to assist victims of domestic violence.
The vote puts the House at odds with the Democratic-controlled Senate, which approved its version of the bill last month on a bipartisan 68-31 vote. The Senate bill renews the act for five years, authorizes $659.3 million in annual spending and contains measures to help victims of sexual assault, improve emergency housing services for victims and consolidate some grant programs to make them more efficient.
Here's a statement from Rivera's office about his vote: "While there are many important provisions in the House version of VAWA, Congressman Rivera believed the bill jeopardized the safety of immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault by unnecessarily eliminating legal protections for these victims. Congressman Rivera represents a district with a large immigrant population and intends on working with congressional leaders to ensure these legal protections for immigrant women are preserved in the final version of VAWA."
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., voted for the Senate version; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., voted against it.