Senate talks on stalled Violence Against Women Act reauthorization unravel

Senate talks on stalled Violence Against Women Act reauthorization unravel
© Greg Nash
Months of negotiations to try to come up with a bipartisan deal in the Senate to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) have hit a stumbling block.

Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements Giffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick MORE (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence Life after Yucca Mountain: The time has come to reset US nuclear waste policy Giffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick MORE (D-Calif.) had been tasked with trying to come up with an agreement to reauthorize VAWA, but Ernst said this week that she'll be offering her own bill, indicating the talks have reached an impasse.
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"Just this week, after months of work and mountains of effort toward a bipartisan bill, it all came to a screeching halt. Once again, the Democrats are putting politics ahead of people and have decided to move forward on the House-passed VAWA bill," Ernst said during a speech on the Senate floor.
 
A spokesman for Feinstein didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 
 
The House passed its bill in April over objections from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Republicans, who argued the legislation would restrict gun rights by preventing people convicted of stalking or abusing dating partners from buying a gun.
 
The bill would eliminate the so-called boyfriend loophole by expanding a current ban on firearm purchases for spouses or formerly married partners convicted of abuse or under a restraining order to include dating partners who were never legally married.

More than 30 House Republicans voted for the measure. But the opposition from most House Republicans, as well as the NRA, made it unlikely it would pass the GOP-controlled Senate.

Ernst, during her speech, said she and Feinstein had made "real progress" on trying to find an agreement before talks hit a roadblock. She also warned Democrats that the House-passed bill was "a non-starter" in the Senate and "is chock-full of partisan political talking points."
 
VAWA lapsed in February after it was left out of a funding bill that ended the partial government shutdown. The statute provides funding and grants for a variety of programs that address domestic abuse.
 
To get a bill through the Senate, lawmakers will need to find a proposal that can get 60 votes — meaning support from both Republicans and Democrats. 
 
Ernst noted that she's planning to put forward a "good-faith proposal" and urged Democrats to support it.
 
"This bill will support survivors and hold abusers accountable. It is also a bill that I believe can pass the Senate and get the president's signature," she said.
 
 
"VAWA is yet another example of how Leader McConnell has turned this chamber into a legislative graveyard. Even the most common sense bills with broad support from one end of America to the other that are passed by the House, here a bill protecting women from violence, meet the grim fate at the hands of the Senate's self-proclaimed grim reaper," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants MORE (D-N.Y.) said earlier this year.
 

“The Senate has already waited over 200 days to take up the bill to reauthorize VAWA passed by the House with bipartisan support," she said. "I’m outraged that Senate Republicans are taking direction from the NRA and will hold up the bill over my commonsense provision to update federal law to protect dating partners and prevent convicted stalkers from buying a gun."