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Biden Criticizes Holdup of Violence Against Women Bill

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Biden criticized Republicans for holding up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) at an event Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

“When all that has occurred, the idea we’re still fighting about this in the Congress, that this is even a debatable issue, is truly sad,” Biden said.

And although he never directly named the GOP, his message and tone were clear.

“It’s not a reflection on the law. It’s a reflection on our inability in this town to deal with something that by now should just be over in terms of the debate about it,” he said at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “We shouldn’t be having this debate”

VAWA, which first passed in 1993 and went into effect in 1994, was spearheaded by then-Senator Biden.

Since the passage of the bill in 1993, domestic violence has seen a decrease of 67 percent.

The event featured a panel that included Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter, a director at Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence, who recounted her own story of fleeing a violent marriage in the late 1970s.

“I had no idea how to even name what was happening,” Hunter said, adding that at the time there were no support groups and that a therapist dismissed her claims and she had nowhere to turn for support.

The latest version of the bill was approved 10-8 down party lines by the Senate Judiciary Committee and it is expected to be considered by the full Senate later this week.

The holdup has been attributed to more changes than the past two reauthorizations had, including expanding visas available to undocumented immigrants who are victims of abuse.

Although the bill is expected to eventually pass Biden took the opportunity to question the hold-up.

“Just ask yourself, what message would be sent to every one of our daughters, every one imprisoned in her own home? Just ask yourself what it would say to them if the law’s not reauthorized?” Biden asked the crowd. What would it say to our daughters, our wives, our mothers, about whether or not they are entitled to respect and their government believes they’re entitled to be free of violence and abuse?”

On Wednesday President Obama signed a memorandum that directs federal agencies to develop policies for the effects of domestic violence, that will not only help victims, but will also serve as a model for the private sector.

Just this month the president declared April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  Saying in a statement that during the month “we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence that threatens lives, erodes communities, and weakens our country.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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