Six female Democratic senators were joined by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) on the Senate floor yesterday to offer support for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which expired in September, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The bill would expand authorized funding for state and local governments to respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and (a new category) stalking.
Two previous iterations of the six-year bill, originally drafted by then-Sen Joseph Biden in 1993, have been renewed with solid bipartisan support. However, the new bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single GOP vote. Indications are that both sides are playing politics. Democrats have added provisions, such as expanding aid to same-sex couples and undocumented immigrants, that make the bill a nonstarter for many Republicans. Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to force the Democrats to pay a political price for moving the bill. They want an open amendment process–now rare in the Senate–that would allow them to take out parts of the bill they say are unpalatable.