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House Reauthorizes Violence Against Women Act

After much handwringing from GOP House members, the Democratic minority and some Republicans joined forces to reauthorize 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.

According to The Hill, the bill authorizes a "program meant to protect women from domestic violence." In previous years, the bill was not controversial. But this year, Republicans had issues with provisions that provided protection for native women and protection offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The bill, which was earlier passed by the Senate, will now head to President Obama for his signature.

The Washington Post explains:

"Republicans generally agree the law is needed, but many in the GOP oppose a sweeping expansion. Before taking up the broad-ranging bill approved by the Senate two weeks ago, the House will vote on a more limited GOP version. But with Democrats solidly behind the Senate bill and Republicans split over their own alternative, that version was likely to be rejected.

"In contrast to the partisan divide in the House, the Senate passed the measure on a 78-22 vote, with all Democrats, all women senators and 23 of 45 Republicans supporting it. The Senate bill goes further than some Republicans like in significantly broadening the scope of the law's coverage."

Right before the House voted on the Senate version of the bill, a Republican version was voted down. The Hill reports that conservatives are worried that more and more the House is simply signing on to Senate bills.

The same thing happened, for example, with the bill that averted the fiscal cliff. That time, the bill sailed through the Senate with vast bipartisan support, but passed in the House with a vote of 257 to 161 with only 85 Republicans voting with the majority.

The real issue here is that during Congress' last term Speaker John Boehner had only brought issues to the floor that a majority of his caucus agreed with. That has changed.

The Hill explains:

"The issue underscores the difficulty Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has had in navigating between pressure from conservatives on his right and the White House and Senate Democrats on his left.

"He has recommitted to the regular order process in the new Congress, but he has also told Republicans that the party must pick its battles with the 'Democratic majority' in Washington. Democrats have been hammering Republicans for months over the bill after Obama won big with women voters in the November election."

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