U.S. House Passes Broader Domestic Violence Law
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2013, file photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, to discuss the reintroduction of the Violence Against Women Act. Calling a truce in the partisan battles, Congress appears ready to send to President Barack Obama a bill that renews and expands the nations primary law on protecting women from domestic violence. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE - In this June 25, 2012 file photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after a pretrial hearing. A military judge hears closing arguments on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2012, on whether Manning who is charged with sending classified material to WikiLeaks, suffered illegal pretrial punishment during nine months in a Marine Corps brig. Army Pfc. Bradley Mannings lawyers claim his treatment was so egregious that all charges should be dismissed. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, HO)
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and the House GOP leadership respond to President Barack Obama's remarks to the nation's governors earlier today about how to fend off the impending automatic budget cuts, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Washington — House Republicans raised the white flag yesterday on extending domestic violence protections to gays, lesbians and transsexuals after months of resisting an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act.
GOP leaders, who had tried to limit the bill before last November’s election, gave the go-ahead for the House to accept a more ambitious Senate version written mainly by Democrats.
Democrats, with a minority of Republicans, were key to the 286-138 House vote that sent to President Obama a renewal of the 1994 law that has set the standard for how to protect women, and some men, from domestic abuse and prosecute abusers.
It was the third time this year that House Speaker John Boehner has allowed Democrats and moderates in his own party to prevail over the GOP’s conservative wing. As with a vote to avoid the fiscal cliff and legislation to extend Superstorm Sandy aid, a majority of House Republicans voted against the final anti-violence bill.
Obama, in a statement, said he would sign the bill “as soon as it hits my desk.”
The law has been renewed twice before without controversy, but it lapsed in 2011 as it was caught up in the partisan battles that now divide Congress. Last year, the House refused to go along with a Senate-passed bill that would have made clear that lesbians, gays, immigrants and Native American women should have equal access to Violence Against Women Act programs.
It appeared the scenario would be repeated this year when the House introduced a bill that didn’t mention the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and watered down a Senate provision allowing tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians who attack their Indian partners on tribal lands.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has spent months working on the issue, defended the Republican plan: “Our goal in strengthening the Violence Against Women Act is simple. We want to help all women who are faced with violent, abusive and dangerous situations. ... We want them to know that those who commit these horrendous crimes will be punished.”
But the House proposal encountered quick and strong opposition from women’s groups, the White House, Democrats and some Republicans, and on Tuesday, the GOP leadership agreed to give the House a vote on the Senate bill. It passed immediately after the House rejected Cantor’s bill, 257-166, with 60 Republicans voting against it.
Vice President Joe Biden, who as a senator was instrumental in moving the 1994 act through Congress, praised Cantor for not standing in the Senate bill’s way. “He kept his word.”