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.
This time, House Republicans, led by majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, tried for weeks to craft a bill that could pass with solely Republican support. But because of issues relating to native Americans and the LGBT community, particularly, that consensus proved elusive and the House GOP bill failed to pass on Thursday.
That may have been a good thing, says Rep. Tom Cole (R) of Oklahoma, one of two lawmakers of native American heritage, because it eliminates the need for a contentious conference committee between the House and Senate to hammer out a compromise – during which Democrats could have continued to hammer Republicans on the “war on women.”
“It’s not a partisan Democratic bill,” says Representative Cole of the Senate measure, which he voted for on Thursday. “I think a bipartisan solution for this actually speaks better for the Congress than a strict partisan bill that would probably push us into a conference that would be deadlocked for weeks.”