For more than a year and a half, Congress wrangled over what should have been one of the most non-controversial issues out there -- the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.

Since 1994 the act had provided resources to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women, created sentencing guidelines for offenders, and funded prevention programs and outreach services for victims.

It was renewed twice since then, with little dissent.

That changed in 2011 when it was allowed to expire by the 112th Congress, which built its reputation on dissent and perfected it almost to the level of art.

In a nutshell, some Republicans objected to the Senate version that expanded protection to include gays and lesbians, Native Americans and illegal immigrants.

That seemed to be what Rep. Scott Perry, R-4th District, was referring to when he explained his vote against the bill finally approved last month.

"For me it included descriptive labels, which included some folks but could exclude other folks," he told PennLive a few days before President Obama signed the bill Thursday. "The descriptive labels leave out other potential individuals. That was a concern for me."

The bill had bipartisan support, and Perry was one of only 138 House members -- all Republicans -- to vote against it.

He told PennLive his decision shouldn't be construed as a lack of support for victims of violence, but rather one of those "tough votes" he'll continue to make.


The fact remains, these important protections for women are back in place -- no thanks to Perry.

Maybe the bill wasn't perfect -- are any? -- but the benefits should have far outweighed any of the flaws our congressman cited.

Citing a Justice Department survey released the same day the act was finally renewed, the Associated Press highlighted improvements since the act was first put in place:

---The rate of sexual violence against women and girls age 12 or older fell 64 percent in a decade and has remained stable for five years.

---In 2010, women and girls nationwide experienced about 270,000 rapes or sexual assaults, compared with 556,000 in 1995.

---Rapes and sexual assault rates involving women have leveled off while overall violent crime rates against women have declined.

Still, AP quoted the president saying during the signing ceremony, 1 in 5 women will be raped during their lifetime, and action is still needed.

Here in York County on Sunday, we received a horrific reminder of that need.

Police say Amanda Himes, a 39-year-old mother of two, was shot to death by her husband Steven Himes, 43, in their Chanceford Township home.

We'll likely never know why Amanda Himes was a victim of the ultimate act of violence against women, but the case points to the importance of the prevention and assistance programs like those included in the act.

That partisan politics delayed its renewal for so long is shameful.