Thursday February 28, 2013 | 02:22 PM

WASHINGTON – Maine Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud voted Thursday to support re-enactment of the Violence Against Women Act, which supports programs to address domestic violence.

The lopsided 286-138 vote belied the partisan battles over renewing the 1994 law. A more limited Republican-drafted bill failed to garner enough support in the House even though Republicans hold the majority of seats in the chamber.

The act provides funding for law enforcement, crisis response training and services, legal assistance to victims, transitional housing and other programs aimed deterring or responding to violence against women.

Some Republicans opposed provisions in the bill dealing with immigrants, Native American women and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered women. Democrats had seized on the Republican opposition to portray the party as anti-women, despite the act’s apparent broad support.

The act has been reauthorized repeatedly but was allowed to expire in 2011, although most programs continued to receiving funding.

"I'm glad the Republicans finally gave up on their effort to gut the Violence Against Women Act today, but it's shameful that they fought to oppose these important protections for so long," Pingree said in a statement.

“I’ve long supported strengthening and updating these critical programs, and I’m pleased this bipartisan bill passed the House today,” Michaud said in a statement. “It streamlines current programs and will lead to smarter policies that will help combat violence in even more effective ways.”

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King both voted to reauthorize the bill earlier this month.

“Maine’s delegation has demonstrated their commitment to quality support of victims and survivors of sexual violence, as well as the prevention of this horrible crime in the future,” Elizabeth Ward Saxl, executive director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said in a statement. “After quite a long wait, this is yet another important step forward.”

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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