The original VAWA passed in 1994, but expired in 2011. Last year both the Republican-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate passed renewal bills, but they were unable to reach a compromise. The new Senate bill expands protections for gays, undocumented immigrants, and Native American women who suffer from domestic abuse.
The Senate bill was sponsored by a Republican, Idaho's Mike Crapo, and received 23 GOP votes.
In a statement, Rubio explained his No vote.
Unfortunately, I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences. Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there's no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions. These funding decisions should be left up to the state-based coalitions that understand local needs best, but instead this new legislation would put those decisions into the hands of distant Washington bureaucrats in the Department of Justice. Additionally, I have concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians.
As USA Today reported, the divisive issue during the debate is the provision that allows tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians accused of assaulting Indian women on reservations.
USA Today reported that Republicans, arguing that subjecting non-Indians to Indian courts was unconstitutional, offered two amendments to strip that section from the bill, but both were defeated.
According to blogger Steve Benen, when VAWA was passed in the House in 1995, the vote was of 415 to 4. But as of late, it has failed to get the minimum of 218 votes, though both times the House was controlled by the GOP.