“Today we must remember why this bill first passed almost 20 years ago,” said Representative McMorris Rodgers, whose elevation to leadership at the beginning of this Congress was widely seen as an acknowledgment by the GOP that it needed to up its appeal to women. “Protecting women was our first priority then, and it must be our first priority now.”
All 199 Democrats were joined by 87 Republicans in voting for the measure after a Republican alternative that gave weaker protections to American Indians, did not include policy changes to combat human trafficking, and gave less direct protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, among other differences, came up short of the votes needed to pass. The Senate passed the legislation with a commanding 78 to 22 vote, including all Democrats and a majority of Senate Republicans.
In 2012, a similar bill passed the House 222 to 205 with 23 Republicans in opposition and six Democrats in favor and with similarly broad bipartisan appeal in the Senate.
However, that bill foundered when Republicans insisted that a procedural point made the Senate bill invalid. (Senate Democrats included a fee in their bill to pay for more visas for abused undocumented immigrants, violating the constitutional rule that all revenue measures have to originate in the House.)
The two chambers never attempted to hammer out their differences in a bicameral committee and the bill died – except in the campaign rhetoric of Democrats.