The Republican-held U.S. House signed off on a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that includes expanded protections for same-sex couples Thursday, ending a protected political fight over the measure and sending the bill to President Obama to sign into law.
The Washington Post reports the measure, which was already approved by the Senate, passed the House on a 286 to 138 vote, as 199 Democrats joined 87 Republicans to push the bill over opposition from a bloc of 138 conservatives, who opposed the bill for a number of reasons, including the new protections for gays and lesbians.
More Republicans voted against the bill than supported it–the third time since December that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has allowed legislation to move off the floor that did not have the support of a majority of his divided members.
In this case, the outcome stemmed from a broad desire from GOP leaders to get past the Violence Against Women Act issue. It was an acknowledgment that their continued opposition to a measure that had passed with broad bipartisan support in the Senate and has strong appeal with women voters–was damaging the party’s image.
Hailed as landmark legislation when it was first passed in 1994, VAWA authorizes funding for programs across the country that help in the prosecution of sexual assault and domestic abuse and assists victims of the crimes.