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The Two-Way
4:06 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Violence Against Women Act Becomes Latest Controversial Measure In House

The House and the Senate are once again at odds: This time over a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The Senate passed a beefed-up version of the bill and the House removed those new protections in their version. With that, the conversation has shifted into the controversial areas of immigration and identity politics. The House debated the bill — H.R. 4970 — today and a vote could be scheduled for this week.

Democrats have started throwing the phrase "war on women," and the White House has issued a veto threat. Some Senators, including one member of the GOP, have sent a letter to the House asking them to pass their version of the bill. But the GOP-controlled house responded by digging in and sending one of their female representatives to defend their version of the bill.

Before we move on to the politics of it all, here's The Los Angeles Times explaining the differences in the two bills:

"Currently the law offers anonymity to victims of domestic abuse who are applying for residency visas so that their applications cannot be sabotaged by their abusers. To encourage victims of domestic abuse crimes to remain in the U.S. and cooperate with police, witnesses are able to apply for a special residency visa and eventually apply for permanent residency.

"Both of these safeguards have been removed from the House bill."

As the Times explains, the act was originally passed in 1994 and it's been reauthorized twice without controversy. This year, it's different.

Last night, the White House sent a veto threat, saying it opposes H.R. 4970 because it would "undermine the core principles" of the original act. Talking Points Memo reports the Obama administration complained that the House bill excluded protections for Native Americans and the gay community. Republicans argue that those protections are redundant.

Today, a group of Senators, including Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, sent the House a letter pressing them to pass their version of the bill.

"We should not let politics pick and choose which victims of abuse to help and which to ignore," the letter said according to The Washington Post.

The Post reports that this controversy comes at a "time when the battle over the female vote has intensified between the parties."

No doubt with that in mind, CNN reports that the GOP sent Rep. Sandy Adams, a freshman from Florida, to defend its position and fight back against Democratic claims that the GOP is at war with women.

"I'm pretty sure I'm not at war with myself," Adams said according to CNN.

The network adds:

"Adams has maintained a relatively low profile during her time in Congress. But she's stepping into the spotlight in a big way — becoming the GOP face of the latest battle on Capitol Hill over the Violence Against Women Act, bringing her own story of domestic abuse with her.

"'At an early age, I quit high school at 17 and joined the Air Force. Married by 18,' Adams said. 'During the marriage, I had a little girl, and I realized really soon that my husband had a penchant for drinking, and when he drank, he turned very mean, very violent.'"

Adams, reports CNN, is now the lead sponsor of the House GOP version of the bill.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.