WASHINGTON The Senate took up the Violence Against Women Act on Monday, seeking to remedy Congress’ failure last year to extend and expand a law protecting women from domestic abuse while broadening its coverage to include Native Americans and gays.
Both the Democratic-led Senate and the GOP House attempted last year to upgrade the 1994 law which expired in 2011. But leaders of the two chambers were unable to span the partisan divide and reach a compromise. With Republican losses among women voters in the November election still a fresh memory, Senate advocates are hoping that it will be easier to find common ground with House Republicans.
The Senate bill, while making minor concessions to meet GOP concerns, is essentially the same as the measure that passed that chamber last April on a 68-31 vote.
It focuses on ensuring that college students, immigrants, Native Americans and gays have access to anti-abuse programs.
In contrast with the House version of the update of the legislation, the Senate bill has bipartisan backing and is expected to have little difficulty in garnering the necessary 60 votes to be moved to the floor. A final vote could come by the end of the week.