Democrats plan to bring debate over 'war on women' to the Senate floor

Senate Democratic leaders plan to bring the debate over the so-called war on women to the Senate floor this week. 

Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Charles SchumerCharles SchumerPuerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Overnight Healthcare: House, Senate on collision course over Zika funding Ryan goes all-in on Puerto Rico MORE (N.Y.) said the Violence Against Women Act would come up for debate before lawmakers leave Friday for a weeklong recess.

ADVERTISEMENT
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidPuerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate McCain files B amendment to boost defense spending Dems to GOP: Cancel Memorial Day break MORE (D-Nev.) has filed a motino to proceed on the legislation so Democrats can take it up immediately after finishing postal reform legislation.

Republicans are expected to vote against the legislation because of provisions extending special visas to illegal immigrants who are the victims of abuse and protecting victims in same-sex relationships.

Republicans are scrambling to put together an alternative bill that would allow them to vote against the Democratic measure and duck political charges that they are anti-women.

Democratic strategists hope an advantage among female voters will help them keep control of the White House and Senate in November.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll last week showed President Obama has a 14-point lead over Mitt Romney among registered women voters, 51 percent to 37.

Every Republican member of the Judiciary Committee voted against the legislation in February.

If Republicans filibuster a motion to proceed to the bill next week, it would give Democrats a good talking point heading into the recess. Democrats have gained traction with women voters since battling over legislation to exempt faith-based organizations from having to provide insurance coverage for contraception and are seeking to add to their advantage.

“It’s my real hope that we’ll be able to get this bill and get through some intransigence on the other side and get it reauthorized,” said Sen. Chris CoonsChris CoonsDems: Warren ready to get off sidelines Dems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Wildlife crime bill deserves unanimous consent in Congress MORE (D-Del.), Friday. Coons’s predecessor, Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenClinton urged to go liberal with vice presidential pick Biden will host cancer research summit in DC Reid throws wrench into Clinton vice presidential picks MORE, is the author of the law.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate backs equal pay for female soccer players Feds can learn lessons from states about using data to inform policy Lawmakers blast poultry, meat industries over worker injuries MORE (Wash.), the highest-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, and Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinClinton’s email troubles deepen Top Dem: CIA officials thought spying on Senate ‘was flat out wrong’ Senate panel advances spy policy bill, after House approves its own version MORE (D-Calif.) and Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Pentagon denies troops on Syrian front lines | Senators push for more Afghan visas Senators push to authorize 4,000 more visas for Afghans Dems discuss dropping Wasserman Schultz MORE (D-N.H.) held a press conference last week to highlight Republican opposition to the legislation.

“It really is a shame, I think, that we’ve gotten to this point that we’ve gotten to this point that we even have to stand here today to urge our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to support legislation that has consistently received broad bipartisan support,” Murray said, noting that former President George W. Bush signed the reauthorization in 2006.

After the press conference, Feinstein noted the party-line Republican vote against the bill in the Judiciary Committee and said she had heard rumors that Republicans opposed various provisions.

Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSenate panel delays email privacy vote amid concerns Senate amendments could sink email privacy compromise Patients dying because of FDA inflexibility MORE (R-Ala.), a member of the Judiciary panel, said he was concerned the new version would allow Indian tribal authorities to prosecute non-Indians for domestic abuse on reservations.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Guccifer plea deal raises questions in Clinton probe Could Romanian hacker ‘Guccifer’ assist FBI’s probe of Clinton? Senate panel delays email privacy vote amid concerns MORE (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel, is working with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on the alternative.

"Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act isn't partisan. Despite the rhetoric, Republicans are firmly committed to reauthorizing VAWA,” Grassley said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the bill that cleared the Judiciary Committee failed to address some fundamental problems, including significant waste, ineligible expenditures, immigration fraud and possible unconstitutional provisions.”

Grassley says the Democratic bill does not do enough to guard against “significant waste” and “ineligible expenditures.”

A Senate GOP aide said Republicans will not attempt to filibuster the legislation.

“Nobody is blocking the bill,” the aide said.

Democratic leaders will have to move quickly to wrap up work on postal reform in time to bring up the Violence Against Women Act before the end of the week.

Reid struck an agreement with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPuerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Overnight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left Trump outlines ‘America First’ energy plan MORE (R-Ky.) to consider 39 amendments to the postal reform bill.

This story was updated on April 23.