The House didn't vote in its waning hours on reauthorizing of the Violence Against Women Act, a controversial piece of legislation opposed by many key Republicans because it would have extended domestic violence protection to lesbians and transgender individuals, in addition to illegal immigrants and Native American women.
The decision led to a swift rebuke from one of the bill's key Democratic supporters, Washington Sen. Patty Murray.
"The House Republican leadership's failure to take up and pass the Senate's bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill's protections to 30 million more women," Murray said in a statement. "But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first."
Opposition to the bill's inclusion of LGBT individuals and illegal immigrants was led by several key Republicans including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who met with Vice President Joe Biden in early December in an apparently unsuccessful attempt to resolve any differences the two parties had over the bill.
In addition to providing protection against domestic violence for the above mentioned groups, VAWA would have provided funding for programs that work with victims of sexual assault, stalking, date rape or violence and domestic violence.
The 2012 act is an expansion of the original 1994 act that was drafted by then-Sen. Joe Biden and received bipartisan support as well as the backing of a vast coalition of advocacy groups. In addition to providing over $1.6 billion toward the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, the original Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
In light of the setback, Murray said she will reintroduce the bill in 2013, adding in an interview with the Huffington Post
that if Republican want to improve their perception among American women, "they have the opportunity to do it now . . . They have the opportunity to take up this bill and show women and men that they understand that women's rights are important."
In the 2012 presidential election, 12 percent more women voted for President Barack Obama over Governor Mitt Romney after a campaign that was in part defined by conservatives alleged "war on women."
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