An extension of the Violence Against Women Act appears to have picked up enough support to pass the U.S. Senate. Senator Patrick Leahy announced yesterday that he has secured the 60 votes needed to move it forward, after the last Congress failed to pass the extension. But if the measure heads to the House, one local lawmaker may play a crucial role in deciding its fate. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, talks with WAMU's Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about the bill and other developments on Capitol Hill. Here are some highlights:
What has changed since the last time the Senate took up the bill: "The politics changed. Women voted overwhelmingly for the president, to reelect him, and the gender gap continued," Hawkings said. "Several Republicans have realized that it's probably in their best interest to put aside their objections to this bill and let it move forward."
On the main change in the bill to please the House: "They have made one small change … designed to get some more Republican votes. They are not going to create a special kind of visa for abused women from overseas to come in," Hawkings says. "Believe it or not, that had a very minor money implication, and House Republicans who are supposed to start money bills themselves said, 'That's good enough for us to object to the whole thing. So the senate has taken away the whole poison pill and essentially dared the Republicans to pass it now."
On House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) role in the negotiations: He and Sen. Leahy did a lot of negotiations on this late last year, … so I've got to assume that Mr. Cantor was one of the people who insists on this provision being taken out," Hawkings says. "He still has to round up some support from conservatives who still object to this, because it's not just an extension, it's an expansion. It will now cover people who are abused who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and American Indians. Some conservatives object to the LGBT while some others object to the American Indian, because the abuse cases would be prosecuted in federal court or tribal court, and some object to that."
On Sen. John Kerry's confirmation to Secretary of State the key committee opening that may now be open to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): Sen. Kerry was a senior member of the finance committee, which in the senate writes tax law, trade law, healthcare law. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is making a concerted push to get on the finance committee," Hawkings says. "He's saying that his work on the Gang of Eight budget negotiations lead him to be deserving of that seat. He does face someone slightly more senior to him in Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who also wants the seat. Our handicapping of that is that Warner is probably in the second position on that one."