If Republicans have been chastened by losing the women’s vote last week by the widest margin in modern history, they have a funny way of showing it.
House GOP leaders aren’t yielding to a bipartisan coalition of Senate leaders demanding they extend the protections of the Violence Against Women Act — an anti-domestic abuse bill that was first passed with broad support in 1994 but hit a brick wall of Republican opposition earlier this year.
“Nothing has changed,” a senior GOP aide told TPM. “The House has passed a bill, we are ready to move to conference, and the Speaker has announced his conferees. We are waiting on Senate Democrats to follow suit and act.”
Six months ago, Senate Democrats passed re-authorization that expanded the law’s protections to LGBT women, illegal immigrants and Native Americans. House Republicans rejected that approach, and in response passed a scaled back version that would make it more difficult for domestic violence victims in the country illegally to achieve legal status.
Democrats have reiterated their insistence that the House take up their version, which passed 68-31 with plenty of GOP support back in April, while the Republicans’ version passed the lower chamber on a more partisan basis in May. As a result, they have no interest in taking up the House GOP’s offer to go to conference.
“Domestic violence protections for all women shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican issue,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the party’s point person for the issue, said in a statement. “A six month delay is inexcusable. One day is inexcusable. As we enter the final days of this Congress, it is time for House Republicans to look beyond ideology and partisan politics. Their obstruction is taking a toll on women across this country.”
Failing to extend funding would reduce available resources for state and local governments to combat domestic violence. As things stand, the stalemate shows no signs of ending.
Asked if she believes House Republicans will come around, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a leading advocate for VAWA, told TPM on Thursday, “I have no idea.”
Gender optics haven’t all been bad for the GOP since the election. House Republicans voted Wednesday to elevate Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) to the No. 4 leadership position in the conference, electing her to the post over conservative favorite, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.