4. Violence Against Women Act
VAWA, as it’s known in Washington, expired in 2011, and the House and Senate have each approved legislation reauthorizing funding for a variety of programs from victim services to protections for immigrants and native Americans.
The bill, which drew little political sniping the three previous times it was approved, became an opportunity for Senate Democrats to paint Republicans as waging a “war on women,” after Republicans objected to language relating to protections for native Americans, gay Americans, and illegal immigrants.
The Senate passed its bill in April, garnering the support of all five female Republican senators. The House then passed its own measure, leaving out the Senate’s most controversial provisions. Then, Republicans used a procedural glitch – the Senate bill contained tax provisions, but such provisions must originate in the House – to stymie further talks until just before recess.
Now, Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio has named eight lawmakers to a conference committee with the Senate. Majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada has yet to name Senate conferees, but Mr. Boehner’s move represents the first progress on VAWA since the separate bills were approved.