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Senate poised to renew Violence Against Women Act

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 7, 2013 at 10:05 a.m.

— The Senate is poised to rewrite the federal government's principal anti-domestic abuse law with new protections for gays, immigrants and Native American women.

A vote to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, expected to come late Thursday or Friday, sets up a possible showdown with the House, which last year rejected the Senate's more ambitious approach.

The Violence Against Women Act is credited with helping significantly reduce incidents of domestic violence over the past two decades. But the law expired in 2011, and Congress has since struggled to come up with a replacement version that would both extend the act and expand its reach. Last year, both chambers passed bills, but the congressional session ended before differences could be resolved.

The bill, expected to easily pass the Senate, is largely the same as last year's measure. It specifies that underserved communities, including those defined by sexual orientation and gender identity, should receive equal treatment under the act and it also improves protections for immigrant women subject to abusive or violent marriages.

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