On February 28th, House Democrats successfully led the charge to defeat the GOP attempt to weaken the Violence Against Women Act and pass the stronger, more comprehensive reauthorization. The Senate’s bipartisan version of VAWA passed the House by a vote of 286-138, including all House Democrats, extending the law’s crucial protections to LGBT, Native American and immigrant victims, providing for more rape kits as well as a national registry of forensic evidence from sexual assault cases, strengthening criminal anti-trafficking statutes, providing for temporary housing for victims, and addressing domestic violence on American college campuses.

Washington Post – Pelosi: When Dems communicate their values clearly, they win

“When Democrats are united, especially around not just an issue but around our values — not discriminating against anybody — we will succeed.”

That’s Nancy Pelosi, speaking about Republicans in the wake of the successful passage of reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This is a big win for Pelosi — the President gave her a shout out in his statement — and she sought to cast the outcome as another sign that Dems can force Republicans to act on their priorities when they do a good enough job of clarifying the choice the two parties are offering the American people. “I hope there’s a realization that when the public has clarity on the decision that is being made here, eventually they’re going to have to come around,” she told me.

Pelosi suggested that the Dem victory bodes well for the coming battle over the sequester, which she said is similar to the one over the Violence Against Women Act, in the sense that the public would side with the Dem vision. “It’s again about making it clear to the public what the decision is,” she said. “Every time we’ve done that, Republicans have folded.” [2/28]

Huffington Post – Nancy Pelosi On VAWA Fight: ‘I Can Never Explain What Republicans Were Thinking’

For all her years in Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she’ll “never understand” why House Republicans held out for so long before passing a broadly supported Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.

“I can never explain what Republicans were thinking. I’ll never understand,” Pelosi said in a brief interview with The Huffington Post on Thursday…

It has been more than 18 months since Congress last authorized VAWA, due in large part to House GOP resistance to provisions in a bipartisan Senate VAWA bill aimed at Native American, immigrant and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender victims of abuse. The House ultimately took up that bill Thursday and passed it, sending it to the president’s desk to become law. House GOP leaders refused to give a similar Senate bill a vote in the last Congress, even though lawmakers in both parties speculated it would have passed. The result was that VAWA didn’t get reauthorized — a first since the law’s inception in 1994.

Pelosi said she didn’t know what changed that made GOP leaders bring it up this time, and said it was “stunning” that as many Republicans voted against it.

“How do you explain that vote?” she asked. [2/28]

CNN – House passes Violence Against Women Act after GOP version defeated

An expanded Violence Against Women Act won bipartisan approval on Thursday from the U.S. House after Republicans failed to pass their own proposal due to a party split on an issue important to women and minority groups…

Thursday’s votes reflected an emerging political reality in the GOP-led House, with a minority of Republicans joining Democrats to pass legislation that has broad public support, including from increasingly influential demographics such as Hispanic Americans. [2/28]

Washington Post – VAWA victory shows that House GOP needs Democrats

After a protracted battle that ended in a victory for Obama and Democrats, the House finally passed the Violence Against Women Act by a comfortable margin, 286-138. The bill passed with unanimous support from House Democrats, combined with backing from 87 Republicans. More Republicans — 138 members — voted against the bill than for it, but it passed, anyway.

This is the third major bill in recent months that required a lot of Democratic support to pass the House. As such, it’s a win for Nancy Pelosi, one that confirms an emerging dynamic: House Republicans seem to need the support of House Democrats to get major legislation passed — and to get out of political jams of their own making.

Consider: The fiscal cliff deal, the aid to Hurricane Sandy victims, and now the Violence Against Women Act all passed with Dem support, with sizable GOP defections against all the measures. In these cases, the House GOP was unable to unify behind a solution of its own; the politics of failing to act were growing increasingly untenable for Republicans; and allowing Obama to win a victory by passing something with Dem support was their least bad remaining option. [2/28]

TPMDC –How House Republicans Caved On The Violence Against Women Act

When House Republican leaders unveiled their more modest version of the Violence Against Women Act last Friday, the plan was to pass their bill and go to conference with the Senate, which had passed a more expansive reauthorization. But they soon found themselves cornered, and decided to back down entirely…

The rollout of their legislation last Friday was a disaster. Women’s advocates and domestic violence groups immediately excoriated it. Democrats swiftly rejected it. The weeks-long effort to find a middle ground between them and the conservative wing of the GOP had failed…

…The GOP’s version failed 166-257. The Democrats’ version passed 286-138, even as Republican members voted against it by a margin of 138-87. The legislation went straight to President Obama, who said he looked forward to signing it.

A Republican leadership aide conceded that Democrats had played hardball quite effectively throughout the battle. [3/1]

Talk Radio News Service – House Passes Dem Version Of Violence Against Women Act

The legislation now heads to President Obama’s desk since it has already cleared the Senate.

In a pair of moves this morning, the House rejected a Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act, and then passed a Democratic model of the bill…

The vote to reject the GOP alternative was 166-257, with 60 Republicans joining every House Democrat in voting ‘no.’ [2/28]

Los Angeles Times Editorial – Voting for women, and against violence

After more than a year of bitter partisan fighting, Congress on Thursday finally reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, including new provisions that will extend the law’s protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and Native American victims of domestic violence. It’s about time.

There is no rational explanation for why lawmakers took so long to reauthorize this legislation, which was first enacted in 1994 and had been renewed twice with broad bipartisan support. Admittedly, the revised law covers a broader group of victims. That was apparently too much for some Republicans in the House, who sought to substitute a weaker bill for the one passed by the Senate, arguing that the new protections either went too far or were prone to fraud.

What the newly reauthorized legislation will actually do is provide help to all victims of domestic violence, regardless of their sexual orientation, immigration status or where the assault took place. [3/1]

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