House Republican leaders signaled Tuesday night that they are ready to let their VAWA bill die and clear the way for a broader, bipartisan Senate bill. The Senate legislation includes new protections missing from the House bill for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), Native American and immigrant victims of domestic violence.
Here’s the House GOP plan procedurally, based on House Rules Committee actions Tuesday night: The House is expected to hold two VAWA votes on Thursday. The first will be to strip out the language of the Senate VAWA bill and replace it with the House GOP language. Since that isn’t expected to pass, lawmakers will then vote on the Senate VAWA bill itself. A GOP source involved in negotiations conceded that there is greater support for the Senate bill, and that the Senate version is likely the one to pass. That means VAWA could land on President Barack Obama’s desk by the end of this week — the version sought by the White House and Democrats.
Pretty much total surrender here on the issue as House Republicans have the approval ratings of somewhere between ebola in a nursery school and National Chewing On Tinfoil Month.
That House Republican leaders are allowing the Senate bill to get a floor vote is significant because they refused to let that happen in the last Congress, even though lawmakers in both parties believed it would pass. The move also signals that GOP leaders are ready to stop fighting over an issue that has damaged them politically. Congress failed to reauthorize VAWA in 2011 due in large part to House Republican resistance to the new protections in the Senate bill, and Democrats clobbered them over it throughout the 2012 election season.
People forget in what was supposed to be a big year for the GOP in 2012, not only did they lose Senate seats, but House seats as well. Letting VAWA die for a year now looks like a fatal mistake for the GOP, one they’re now scrambling to correct after badmouthing the Senate version as recently as last week. What’s behind the change in heart? Perhaps correctly assuming he would personally shoulder the blame should the bill die, Eric Cantor has now relented.
It’s not a victory yet for the good guys, but things look a lot better than just last Friday, when the house version was passed. Suddenly, this same House version doesn’t have the votes to survive the reconciliation process with the Senate bill.
Funny how that works.