Biden praises Cantor for allowing vote on domestic violence bill

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) voted against the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act reauthorization on Thursday, but that didn’t stop Vice President Biden from giving the top Republican a warm public shout-out.

In a White House event celebrating the bill’s final passage after a yearlong fight, Biden thanked Cantor for allowing a vote on the Senate measure, which passed the House despite opposition from a majority of Republicans.

“He kept his word. He said he’d let the Congress speak,” Biden said. “He could have prevented this from coming to a vote under the ordinary rules that had been employed in the past. But he didn’t. So I want to probably hurt him, but I want to publicly thank him, because he kept his word. Where I come from, your word matters. Where I come from, your word matters.”

Biden authored the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994. He noted that Cantor is “viewed as sort of the anti-administration person” but called him “a friend of mine.”

Cantor had spearheaded efforts to draft and pass a House GOP reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which would have sent the two competing versions to a conference committee. But in the face of Democratic opposition, Republican leaders could not win enough votes to pass their measure. So Cantor, who runs the floor schedule, put up the Senate-passed bill for a vote Thursday after the GOP legislation failed.

Cantor was the only member of the senior GOP leadership to oppose the Senate bill, which passed the House easily after winning the support of 78 senators earlier this month.

Biden and Cantor worked together on the domestic violence issue late last year, and before that on budget matters. But as the White House and congressional Republicans square off on looming spending cuts, the praise from Biden was surprising enough that a top Cantor aide circulated the quotes to reporters under the subject line, “Not the Onion,” in reference to the satirical newspaper and website.

The House vote on Thursday was the third time in the last two months that the chamber has passed legislation opposed by a majority of Republicans. The decision by party leaders to vote on legislation despite that opposition could have implications for other items on President Obama’s second-term agenda, including gun control and immigration reform.