House Republicans Surrender, Prepare To Pass Strengthened Violence Against Women Act

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In what would be an epic cave in and an epic victory for women across the country, House Republicans are preparing to bring the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor for a full vote.

Talking Points Memo reports that late Tuesday night, the Rules Committee “sent the House GOP’s version of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor with a key caveat: if that legislation fails, then the Senate-passed version will get an up-or-down vote.”

Over the next two days, it is expected that House Republicans will bring their version of VAWA to the floor for a vote where it will likely die. Then out of the ashes of that bill, the beefed up Senate version of the bill will rise and be passed by a coalition of Democrats and sane Republicans. In other words, moderate Republicans are going to ignore the Tea Party caucus of the House to do the right thing for women.

Renewal of the legislation had been hoped for last year, but House Republicans refused to bring the Senate version of the bill to a vote and it died when the 112th Congress came to an end. Republicans objected to new protections in the bill for undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, and same-sex partners. The Senate then returned for the 2013 session and promptly passed the strengthened version again by a vote of 78-22. Republicans accounted for the 22 opposing votes while Democrats and a combination of moderate Republicans pushed the bill to victory. Every woman in the Senate voted in support of the bill. And now the bill looks to be finally passed in the House complete with the new protections.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington told TPM that she praises these new developments in the debate on the bill.
“We are on the cusp of a huge victory for every single woman who has been told over the past 16 months that they didn’t deserve VAWA protections. I applaud those moderate Republicans in the House who are ready to put politics aside and help us get this over the finish line. I know that the broad coalition of women and advocates who I’ve worked with over the course of this long effort have their fingers crossed and will be watching closely.”

Indeed, Americans across the country, and especially American women, will be watching House Republicans this week. VAWA was first authorized in 1994 and established protections and assistance to victims of domestic violence. Republican opposition to renewing the legislation contributed to the wide gender gap that propelled President Obama and Democrats to huge victories in the 2012 Election. 55% of female voters cast their ballot for President Obama and helped send more women to the US Senate than ever before. The House may have turned blue as well if Republicans hadn’t guaranteed their House seats through gerrymandering. A victory for VAWA is a victory for women, but will undoubtedly lead to calls to primary moderate Republicans for not abiding by the anti-women stance of the Tea Party. Only time will tell how the inner party war will play out, but for now, sanity looks to be making a brief but critical appearance in the Republican dominated House.