Senate Poised To Pass Violence Against Women Act – But House Outlook Remains Uncertain

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The Senate is poised to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization early this week, with a final vote expected Monday afternoon or Tuesday.

The legislation enjoys broad bipartisan support in the Senate; it has 62 sponsors and moved forward last week by a vote of 85-8. The Senate voted 34-65 to reject an amendment by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to replace the measure with a scaled-back reauthorization.

After voting on additional amendments, including one by VAWA chief sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to beef up resources to combat human trafficking, the legislation is expected to pass with expanded provisions to extend coverage to gays, illegal immigrants and Native Americans who suffer from domestic abuse.Despite the unusually large Senate consensus, there has been no perceptible movement among House Republican leaders since they passed a scaled-back version of VAWA on a party-line vote last year, rejecting the Senate legislation.

In an exchange on the floor Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) needled Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on VAWA. Cantor responded that it’s a “priority” for Republicans to “move and act on this bill” – but signaled that divisions linger.

“We want to protect the women who are subject to abuse on tribal lands, and unfortunately there are issues that don’t directly bear on that that have come up, that have complicated it,” Cantor said. “But in working with [Hoyer’s] office as well as the vice president’s, I hope to be able to deal with this and bring it up in a expeditious manner.”

By the end of the week, House Republican leaders had no progress to speak of.

“Silence,” said a senior House Democratic aide.

“There is no reason for them not to take this bill up and pass it,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told TPM last Thursday, expressing hope that House leaders will permit a vote. “I think they are hearing from a number of their moderate Republican women, particularly after the last election. I think they are looking bad hiding behind not moving a strong bill.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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