This morning, after a bit of hand-wringing musical theater from Republicans, the U.S. House of Reps finally did its job and passed the Senate's version of the Violence Against Women Act. The vote was 286 to 138. Eighty-seven Republicans voted in favor of the bill; no Democrats voted against it. Now all it needs is Obama's signature to seal the deal.
This is a huge victory for our Washington state Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who lobbied hard to get the bill passed. A little history from the Washington Post:
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.”
"This is a major victory for women and especially for Native, LGBT, and immigrant women," said Chris Stearns, chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission. "Combined with the pounding the Republicans took at the polls from women, Hispanics, blacks, and Native Americans, they had no choice this year to start dealing. The possibility of losing elections for the forseeable future meant that the House leadership had to change their strategy or face extinction. In short, the  election changed everything."