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House passes domestic-violence bill opposed by Cantwell and Murray
WASHINGTON -- The House on Wednesday voted to reauthorize a domestic-violence bill opposed by Democrats and some moderate Republicans and denounced by some advocacy groups as weakening protection for victims.
The 222-205 vote ensures a continued political tussle over the Violence Against Women Act with the Senate. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have used this and other issues to help lead the argument in Congress that the GOP has it out for women.
The eight House members from Washington were split along party lines. Republican Reps. Dave Reichert of Auburn, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas, Doc Hasting of Pasco and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane voted for the bill.
Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Seattle, Adam Smith of Tacoma, Rick Larsen of Lake Stevens and Norm Dicks of Bremerton voted no.
Twenty three Republicans sided with the Democrats in opposing the bill; six Democrats voted for it.
Hours before the 5 p.m. vote, Murray, Cantwell and 11 fellow female senators sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner calling on his chamber to take an up-or-down vote on the Senate version of the bill. The Senate passed it last month by a 68-31 vote, including support from 15 Republicans.
A coalition of groups working to end domestic violence contend the House bill is so watered down that voting for it is tantamount to voting against it. Among other things, the House version excludes the Senate's proposal to extend protection to gay and lesbian victims and to allow more illegal immigrants to seek temporary visas if they are victims of domestic violence.
McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House GOP leadership, opposes the Senate version because the inclusion of same-sex couples and other provisions is a political stunt, her spokesman, Todd Winer, said.
"These side issues were included in the Senate version in order to create a controversy and cultivate the myth that Republicans are waging a “War on Women,” Winer said by email. "The House version will reauthorize and strengthen the law in a way that’s true to the law’s intentions."
Likewise, Herrera Beutler's spokesman, Casey Bowman, argued the added provisions in the act were unwarranted.
"Jaime believes that violence against anyone is deplorable and unacceptable. She voted for this bill because it’s an all-inclusive protection for all victims of domestic violence," Bowman said.
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