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Violence Against Women Act: A political opening for Democrats?

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Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to force the Democrats to pay a political price for moving the bill. They want an open amendment process that would allow them to take out parts of the bill they say are unpalatable. 

Democrats say their additions to the bill are necessary and question the Republican decision to dig in. 

“It signals that there well could be a filibuster. Now, why?” says Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California. “The police department responds to a call regardless of who it is. And the service should be there regardless of who it is."

Republicans respond that their amendments to the bill were “summarily dismissed” in the committee, said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) of Texas.

“I think we need to take up the bill, and I think we need to have an open amendment process” on the Senate floor, said Senator Hutchison, who supports reauthorizing the law.

An open-amendment process is now rare in the Senate.

Specifically, Republicans are concerned about how the bill addresses domestic violence among Native Americans, as well as potential abuses of the system by illegal immigrants who claim domestic abuse to access temporary visas. The legislation also doesn't do enough to ensure "more money goes to victims rather than bureaucrats," said Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement.

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