In the ongoing drama over extension of the 1994 federal Violence Against Women Act, Senate Democratic women plan to march to the Senate floor today to demand quick action on its extension, the New York Times reports. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may push for a vote this month. Democrats, confident they have the political upper hand with women, insist that Republican opposition falls into a larger picture of insensitivity toward women that has progressed from abortion fights to contraception to preventive health care coverage — and now to domestic violence.
"I am furious," said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA). "We're mad, and we're tired of it." Republicans are bracing for a battle where substantive arguments could be swamped by political optics and the intensity of the clash over women's issues. At a closed-door lunch yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) warned her colleagues that the party was at risk of being successfully painted as antiwoman. Some conservatives are feeling trapped. "I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition," said Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL). "You think that's possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn't support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women