Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that the GOP wouldn't filibuster a domestic abuse bill that had sparked the latest round of partisan bickering on Capitol Hill
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UPDATE: The Senate signed off on a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday, the same day that Republicans relented on threats of a filibuster and agreed to allow the measure to come up for a vote on the floor.
Reuters reports that the bill now moves to the House, where it's expected to face another fight from GOP lawmakers. The Senate bill expands protections to include gays, illegal immigrants and Native Americans. House Republicans are reportedly working on their own version of the measure, one that would presumably not include the expanded coverage. Lawmakers plan on announcing details of the GOP version of the bill next week.
The bill's primary purpose is to extend federal funding for things like battered women's shelters and outreach efforts, but the traditionally bipartisan measure became the centerpiece of an ongoing election-year fight over female voters in recent weeks.
In dropping their opposition in the Senate, Republicans looked to distance themselves from the issue and blunt an attack narrative from Democrats that they were waging a "war on women."
"We’re all in favor of the Violence Against Women Act—as you know, it was passed on a voice vote when we were in the majority here [in 2005]," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Politico Thursday afternoon. "Any fight here would be completely manufactured on their part."
Wednesday, April 25: Looks like the battle for female voters is far from over.
Politico reports that House Republicans are quietly drafting their own version 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 as lawmakers prepare to reauthorize it.
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 Congress has emerged over a handful of more progressive additions to the Senate's Democrat-authored version, 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.
House Republicans, eager to avoid being seen as the party that is standing in the way of protecting women, reportedly plan to unveil their own version of the bill next week. According to Politico, Rep. Eric Cantor has met recently with a number of female Republican lawmakers to get their input into what the GOP measure should look like.