Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images.
It looks like the Senate is gearing up for another battle under the banner of women’s rights.
The New York Times reports that Senate Democrats are demanding an extension of the Violence Against Women Act, a piece of legislation from 1994 that was largely bipartisan at the time but that has now sparked the latest round of partisan bickering in Washington.
A group of Senate Democratic women plan to march to the Senate floor on Thursday to demand quick action on the extension.
While the legislation's main focus—extending federal funding for things like battered women's shelters and expanding outreach efforts and free legal assistance to abuse victims—has support on both sides of the aisle, a deep partisan rift in the chamber has emerged over a handful of more progressive additions, including a provision that would allow same-sex couples in domestic abuse programs and another that would make it easier for battered immigrant women to access temporary visas.
The NYT explains the GOP opposition:
Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expands immigration avenues by creating new definitions for immigrant victims to claim battery. More important, they say, it fails to put in safeguards to ensure that domestic violence grants are being well spent. It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they say.
The debate comes amid heightened tension over the Obama administration’s push to include contraception in health coverage, and the backlash that ensued when Republicans fought for allowing religiously-affiliated employers to opt out.
Democratic leaders have suggested they could bring the domestic abuse measure up for a vote by the end of the month.