by PATRICIA MURPHY, The Daily Beast
Republican men seem to find themselves in a colossal mess with female voters about once a week these days. So cue a group of female senators—Democratic and Republican—who went to the Senate floor Thursday to register their disbelief that serious opposition exists among, yes Republican men, to updating the Violence Against Women Act, the 1994 bill that provides money for emergency shelters, counseling, rape crisis centers, and legal services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.
“It’s hard to believe we are having a conversation in 2012 about protecting women from violence, but we are,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat.
Seven years ago, the bill passed the House 415 to 4 and then cruised through the Senate unanimously. Last month, a new version of the bill passed the Judiciary Committee, but only after all eight Republicans on the panel, all men, voted against it.
“I was stunned by the vote,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sits on the committee. “Never before had there been any controversy in all of this time about this bill.”
The vote also stunned women’s groups, used to seeing the bill sail through Congress, and Democratic operatives, who have watched with delight as national Republicans have pushed bills to limit insurance coverage for women’s contraception, local Republicans have passed laws forcing women to undergo an invasive ultrasound before having an abortion, and Republican favorite Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown law student a slut and a prostitute after she testified to Congress about access to contraception.
With Republican senators opposing a bill designed to protect women from abuse and stalking, Democratic leaders smell blood in the water and are pushing for a vote on the legislation as early as next week.
Although the bill has 58 co-sponsors, including all 17 women—Democrats and Republicans—in the Senate, it is two votes short of a 60-vote margin that would guarantee passage.
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