In a solid show of bipartisanship, the Senate has voted to renew the two-decade-old Violence Against Women Act with new provisions to ensure that gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women have equal access to the act's anti-domestic violence programs.

The act is credited with aiding millions of domestic violence victims and reducing domestic abuse in the U.S. It expired in 2011 and Congress has struggled to replace it.

Both the House and the Senate passed bills last year, but House Republicans balked at the expansions in the act pushed by Senate Democrats, and no compromise was reached.

House GOP leaders, still smarting from their poor showing among women in the election, have said they will move quickly to come up with their own legislation. (AP)

Statement from the President on the Senate Passage of the Violence Against Women Act

Today the Senate passed a strong bipartisan bill to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act.  This important step shows what we can do when we come together across party lines to take up a just cause. The bill passed by the Senate will help reduce homicides that occur from domestic violence, improve the criminal justice response to rape and sexual assault, address the high rates of dating violence experienced by young women, and provide justice to the most vulnerable among us.  I want to thank Senator Leahy and his colleagues from both sides of the aisle for the leadership they have shown on behalf of victims of abuse.  It's now time for the House to follow suit and send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.

Statement by Vice President Biden on the Violence Against Women Act

Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. This law has been incredibly effective and I hope the House will vote without delay to renew the law so that we can continue to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and hold offenders accountable for their crimes.

Delay isn't an option when three women are still killed by their husbands or boyfriends every day. Delay isn't an option when countless women still live in fear of abuse, and when one in five have been victims of rape. This issue should be beyond debate – the House should follow the Senate's lead and pass the Violence Against Women Act right away. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue – it's an issue of justice and compassion.

U.S. Senator Dean Heller is one of seven Republicans to cosponsor this legislation, which provides vital services for victims and their dependents, and helps those affected by domestic violence find safety and opportunities to rebuild their lives.

"I am grateful that the Senate passed this important legislation and provided those who are affected by domestic abuse some much-needed comfort. Violence in all its forms is unacceptable and unfortunately Nevada's struggling economy has limited state resources. I am confident that this bill will enable domestic violence programs to plan for the future and serve even more Americans in need. This bill will further prevention efforts that will result in reducing domestic violence and help our nation's most vulnerable.

"This bipartisan effort is an example of how Members of Congress should be working together to solve the problems facing our nation. VAWA will truly make a difference in the lives of countless women in Nevada and throughout the United States," said Senator Dean Heller.

According to the annual report released by the Violence Policy Center, Nevada has the highest rate of domestic violence killings by men against women in the nation. Out of every 100,000 women, 2.7 are killed annually.