The Senate has agreed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, showing bipartisan support for a measure that would revamp domestic violence programs and extend the law’s protections to gays and lesbians and women on tribal reservations.
The 78-to-22 vote puts pressure on the GOP-held House to also act to renew the 19-year-old measure, which Congress has twice reauthorized but which lapsed in 2011 amid partisan disputes over key provisions.
The House and Senate also could not resolve differences between versions of the measure during the height of the campaign season last year. Democrats hope Republicans will be more anxious to work out a deal this year, as the GOP has been trying to win back female voters, who preferred Democrats in the November election.
Indeed, intense negotiations are underway in the House over a key Republican objection to the Senate legislation — new authority afforded to tribal courts to prosecute the non-native abusers of Native American women on Indian reservations.