Two Illinois Republican congressmen are going against their party and supporting the reauthorization of a law that provides federal funding for programs for victims of domestic violence. Under current law, federal funds aren’t available to help some domestic violence victims. A Senate version of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would allow funding to be used for the gays and lesbians, illegal immigrants and others not covered by the law.
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Many House Republicans are against such use of funds, but U.S. Reps. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) and Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) say they support the Senate legislation. The two are urging their colleagues to get on board. “Domestic violence can happen to anyone, anywhere and our laws should reflect that,” Biggert said. “We cannot allow [the Violence Against Women Act] to fall victim to partisan gridlock.” Biggert says there is good news on the horizon. The House speaker has named members to serve on a House-Senate conference committee that will negotiate a final bill. Provisions included in the Senate bill would ensure gay and lesbian individuals have access to victim services, eliminate disincentives for reporting crimes among immigrants, increase transparency and preventive programs on college campuses and allow tribal court systems to prosecute domestic violence.