Thursday, February 14, 2013

House Speaker Boehner: May Consider Senate Version Of Violence Against Women Act

House Speaker John Boehner  * AP File Photo

By Brody Levesque | WASHINGTON -- Republican House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday that the GOP's majority House leadership are considering a plan for moving forward with the Violence Against Women Act legislation. The Speaker did indicate that he may be open to discussions on taking up the Senate version passed Tuesday in a 78-22 vote.
Questioned by reporters during a press briefing, Boehner responded; 
"Our leadership [is] continuing to work with the committee of jurisdiction, looking at finding ways to deal with this legislation. We're fully committed to doing everything we can to protect women in our society, and I expect that the House will act in a timely fashion in some way," he said adding, "No decision has been made about ... whether we take up the Senate bill or our own version of the bill."
Congress had failed to reauthorise the Act last year- the first time since the original measure had been passed in 1994- with most of the opposition from House Republicans who claimed that provisions of the Act, which gave up-dated protection for LGBT, Native American and undocumented immigrant victims of domestic violence, were politically driven.
The bill was caught up in partisan fighting during the presidential election cycle last fall with Democrats alleging that the Republicans were waging a "war on women. Negotiations between the Senate and House in the conference committee sessions over those provisions broke down, with the House advancing a watered down version with out the provisions and the Senate refusing to take them out. Congress adjourned in December with both versions of the legislation failing to gain passage. 
A spokesperson for Vice-President Joe Biden's office acknowledged Thursday that passage of the new version of the VAWA is one of his top priorities. The Vice-President was one of the law's original co-sponsors.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has taken the lead in negotiations, although he has faced criticism for failure in the last session to reach a compromise on the new provisions in the bill that were and still are the principal reasons that would bar passage by the GOP controlled House.
Kim Gandy, the president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said earlier this week that Cantor’s office has been "particularly responsive in terms of meeting with advocates and trying to achieve agreement with his Republican caucus."
Cantor spokesman Doug Heye noted that;
"Finding agreement and moving forward legislation to protect all women has been Majority Leader Cantor's priority from day one. To that end, we continue to work with VAWA advocates to find agreement on the best path forward."