GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act

Tensions over a long-stalled Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization spilled into public view on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
 
Sen. 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.) tried to get consent to vote on the House-passed VAWA bill by the end of the year, including allowing both sides to offer two amendments.
ADVERTISEMENT
 
"This bill is not a Democratic bill. It's not a Republican bill. This bill is a survivors' bill. It's written with the help of survivors who know what's needed in the real world," Feinstein said ahead of making her request.
 
But Sen. 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), who is introducing her own VAWA reauthorization, objected to setting up the vote on the bill, arguing that the House legislation could not pass the GOP-controlled Senate. 
 
"Why on earth would we introduce a piece of legislation that will not make it through this body? Shouldn't we be working together to find a path forward? We should continue to work on that, and I sincerely hope that by the of this year, we can come together," she added. 
 
Democrats were quick to note that, under Feinstein's amendment, Republicans could have offered Ernst's version of the VAWA reauthorization as a substitute amendment — meaning that, if successful, it would become the bill that got a final vote in the Senate. 
 
Under Feinstein's request, a vote on the House bill as well as any amendments would be held at a time agreed upon by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — House Dems charge Trump with abuse, obstruction of Congress in impeachment articles Senate must take up Voting Rights Advancement Act without delay Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerKrystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? TikTok 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 MORE (D-N.Y.). 
 
The House passed its VAWA bill over objections from the National Rifle Association and Republicans, who opposed the legislation because of a provision that eliminated 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.
 
Feinstein and Ernst were tapped to work out a bipartisan Senate bill that could get the 60 votes needed to get through the chamber. But talks unraveled earlier this month. Senate Democrats introduced the House bill last week, and Ernst introduced her own bill on Wednesday. 
 
Both Feinstein and Ernst appeared open, during the floor speeches on Wednesday, to trying to work out a bipartisan agreement by the end of the year. 
 
"I think that by the end of the year, we should find something that will work to reauthorize this very, very important piece of legislation, and I appreciate your leadership on this very much and truly have enjoyed working with you," Ernst said. 

But in addition to the gun-related provisions, Feinstein pointed to LGBT and tribal sovereignty provisions as two other sticking points for trying to work out a bipartisan deal. 
 
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.