By Russell Berman - 07/30/12 07:23 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday named Republican negotiators on the long-stalled reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, hoping to launch a House-Senate conference committee two-and-a-half months after the House passed its version.
The Speaker’s announcement is the first sign of movement on the legislation in weeks, but whether it will lead to substantive action before the November elections is unclear. The House and Senate are just days away from a five-week congressional recess.
"The House is ready and willing to begin those discussions," he continued, "and I would urge Senate Democrats to come to the table so this critical legislation can be sent to the president for his signature as soon as possible.”
In late April, the Senate passed a reauthorization of the bill with bipartisan support on a vote of 68-31. The House followed with its own bill three weeks later, but Senate leaders dismissed the lower chamber’s version as inadequate because it lacked specific measures for Native American, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and immigrant victims of domestic violence. A top Senate Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), has said she would not compromise on those provisions.
House leaders have called on the Senate to fix its own bill because it raises revenue, and measures that raise revenue must originate in the House.
A House GOP leadership aide said that position has not changed.
“Given that the Senate-passed bill is unconstitutional, the best way to proceed is for the Senate to fix their mistake, and go to conference,” the aide said. “In light of the heated rhetoric from Senate Democrats on this issue, if they do not agree to go to conference, it will seem they are more interested in exploiting this issue for partisan gain than getting a bill done.”
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not immediately return a request for comment.
The House conferees that Boehner named are Reps. Sandy Adams (Fla.), the bill’s chief sponsor, Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (Texas).