The Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday in a 68-31 vote, with all of the no votes coming from Republican men.
Ten Republican men and all of the female Republican senators voted in favor of the bill, which would increase penalties on criminals convicted of domestic violence and provides additional funding to programs to reduce sexual assaults and domestic violence.
The legislation had been caught up in the battle for female votes in the presidential election, and GOP leaders decided to allow the bill to proceed to limit any political damage from it.
The legislation faces a rockier road in the House, however, where rival legislation has been offered by Republican lawmakers.
Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganInfighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms MORE (D-N.C.) praised the chamber's passage of the vote.
“I am thrilled that the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act passed the Senate today,” said Hagan. “I'm relieved that my Senate colleagues have put partisanship aside to move this important legislation forward. VAWA is essential to the protection and safety of women, and I urge the House to act swiftly to provide continued protection to victims of violent crimes."
Republicans in the Senate had objected to several other provisions in the bill.
They opposed an increase in visas for victims of domestic violence seeking protection who are illegal immigrants, as well as broadened authority for Native American communities to fight domestic violence and sexual assaults. Republican senators also disagreed with language in the bill that prohibited discrimination of domestic violence victims because of their sexual orientation.
Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Trump lawyer offered six-point plan for Pence to overturn election: book Graham found Trump election fraud arguments suitable for 'third grade': Woodward book MORE (R-Utah), an opponent of the bill, said it was an overreach of federal authority.
“Everyone agrees that against women is reprehensible,” Lee said. “The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization has the honorable goal of assisting victims of domestic violence but it oversteps the Constitution's rightful limits on federal power.
“It interferes with the flexibility of states and localities that they should have in tailoring programs to meet particular needs of individual communities,” he said. “And it fails to address problems of duplication and inefficiency.”
Republicans tried to push an alternate version of that bill that did not include the contentious provisions but that legislation failed.
Senate Republicans were a bit split on the measure, however, as eight members of their caucus were co-sponsors of the legislation.
A day earlier Senate Republicans agreed to let the Democratic-backed bill move forward to a final vote. Republicans in the chamber said they did not want to take the bait and oppose the bill allowing Democrats to label them against women's rights and continue to accuse them of waging a “war on women.”
Democrats pushed back hard on critics of the legislation.
“I believe that opposing the bill before us would defy every ounce of commonsense that I have in my body,” said Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Biden, Xi talk climate at UN forum Election reform in the states is not all doom and gloom Manchin presses Interior nominee on leasing program review MORE (D-W.Va.). “I am proud sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act as are most of my colleagues here in this body because it is unfathomable that any individual could oppose efforts to ensure women and children are free from violence.”
Just before the vote, the chamber voted on three amendments to the bill, all of which failed in votes that required a majority of 60 senators.
Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThis week: Democrats face mounting headaches Klobuchar: 'It is evil to make it deliberately hard for people to vote' Democrats push to shield election workers from violent threats MORE's (D-Minn.) amendment to set a minimum amount for rape kit testing funds failed in a 57 -41 vote, while a similar measure from Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Democrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards MORE's (R-Texas) that increased funding but did not set a minimum amount failed 50-48. Cornyn’s bill also would have established a forensic registry for sexual assaults.
A third amendment from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) failed 36-63. It would have increased the total funding for testing backlogged rape kits and also kept funding for VAWA at the same amount before it was reauthorized in an effort to not increase the country's deficit.
Every Democrat voted for the bill. The Republicans who voted yes were Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism MORE (Tenn.), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (Tenn.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate MORE (N.H.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE (Ind.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Welcome to ground zero of climate chaos MORE (Maine), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoThe Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act is an industry game-changer The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Wyden asks White House for details on jet fuel shortage amid wildfire season MORE (Idaho), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerEx-Sen. Dean Heller announces run for Nevada governor Former Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Democrat Jacky Rosen becomes 22nd senator to back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (Nev.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden steps onto global stage with high-stakes UN speech Biden falters in pledge to strengthen US alliances 20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance MORE (Ariz.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates DHS chief 'horrified' by images at border DHS secretary condemns treatment of Haitian migrants but says US will ramp up deportations MORE (Ohio), Olympia Snowe (Maine), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (La.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear Emboldened Trump takes aim at GOP foes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration MORE (Alaska), and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenThe 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (N.D).
Vice President Biden, who was the original author of VAWA, praised the bill's passage. Biden drafted the legislation in 1994 while he was a senator.
"In 2012, we should be beyond questioning the need for the Violence Against Women Act," Biden said in a statement. "This law has been overwhelmingly successful since it was first enacted 17 years ago to improve the criminal justice response to this violent crime and to assist those who experience this abuse. Since then, the law has twice been reauthorized with the broad support of members of both parties. It should still be bigger than politics today."
Biden urged the House to swiftly pass the legislation.
"Now the House needs to act so the president can sign this vital legislation as soon as possible," Biden said.
This story was updated at 6:52 p.m.