WASHINGTON – Earlier this year, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) spoke emotionally about her experience of being raped as a young woman, to highlight the need for an extensive version of the Violence Against Women Act. Moore, a sponsor of this years’ VAWA, is still hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can overcome their differences and pass a final version of the bill this legislative session.
Since the House and Senate passed different versions of VAWA, members have dragged their feet on reconciling the differences and voting for final passage. Just yesterday, Sen. Pat Leahy called on Congress to pick up the pace.
“Victims should not be forced to wait any longer,” he said.
But Moore is hoping that Congress will act — and soon. “I feel real good about that,” she told ThinkProgress on Wednesday. “How many defections did we have,” she asked, referencing the 23 Republicans who voted against the Republican version of the bill in the House:
There’s a crack on their side that’s significant to the party unity thing. And then their creation of their fake women’s caucus, the young women’s guns or something or another as a response to it. I think that you know this really elucidated, surprisingly, to an extent that the birth control thing wasn’t able to, that there really is some antipathy toward the plight of women. You know, this whole, ‘we’re going to have a neutral Violence Against Women Act’ that’s genderless.’ Come on now, everyone knows who’s getting their butts beat in the house.
The two bills are not irreconcilably different, but the Senate’s version is far more inclusive — it covers undocumented women, Native Americans, and the LGBT community. Should Congress pass the House’s version of the bill, those victims would be left uncovered.
Top Democrats have called the Republicans’ resistance to VAWA a clear political move, and a “directive of John Boehner.” The White House has also threatened to veto a version that does not cover all victims.