The filibuster-proof Violence Against Women Act was expected to go in front of the U.S. Senate this week to debate funding reauthorization, according to the Huffington Post April 16. While debate hasn’t yet begun in the upper chamber as of April 19 (much less in the House of Representatives, where it is expected to meet more opposition), politicians have been publicly arguing over proposed changes from Democrats, with Republicans planning to offer up their own version.
On April 18, Vice President Joe Biden held a White House forum on the bill where he lamented partisan divisions. “The idea we’re still fighting about this in Congress, that this is even a debatable issue, is truly sad,” Biden said.
On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a sponsor of the Democrats’ version, is nevertheless “offended by the blatant politics being played on this” by Democrats and called the GOP’s war on women “absurd,” according to Roll Call April 18.
A spokesperson for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he hopes it can be reauthorized without turning it into a political football. He would not say which version he supported, reported Mother Jones April 19.
It is not entirely clear what a Senate Republican version even looks like.
At the prompting of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) will offer a Republican alternative, reported Politico April 18. Of the five Republican women in the U.S. Senate, Hutchison is the only one not co-sponsoring the current bill. What changes might she lead?
Many Republicans have objections to added protections for same-sex couples and undocumented immigrants, as well as allowing prosecutions of domestic violence to take place under tribal criminal law, reported the New York Times March 14.
Hutchison, however, said her bill would also extend protections to same-sex couples, according to Politico. It would not expand a program that gives undocumented victims of abuse a path to citizenship. As far as tribal jurisdiction, the senator wrote that “This provision is probably unconstitutional; it is certainly impractical. Our bill will have a sound, practical alternative to protect Native American women.”
Samantha Kimmey is a writer in Brooklyn, NY.