Speaker John Boehner has a procedural threat to
the bipartisan Senate Violence Against Women Act.
may have found
a potent procedural weapon in their fight to exclude groups of people they don't like from Violence Against Women Act protections, TPM's Brian Beutler reports. The Constitution's Origination Clause requires that revenue-raising bills come from the House, and the bipartisan Senate Violence Against Women Act includes a visa fee for immigrant victims of abuse:
Normally, the Senate can work around this requirement by amending House bills or by using House-passed revenue bills as vehicles for their own legislation. Senate Dems didn’t regard the visa fee as a revenue provision and have thus fallen into a trap. For all intents and purposes they don’t have a bill to bring to a conference committee with House Republicans. They can and may attempt to relegislate VAWA in a way that fulfills the origination requirements — but out of deference to Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could significantly delay or completely block such an effort.
Alternatively, as a top Senate Democratic aide pointed out, House Republicans could simply drop their blue-slip threat, as they did for recent transportation legislation. But Boehner’s not likely to agree to that unless Democrats give up something in return — and at the expense of key Democratic constituencies.
What Republicans still have not gained, however, is the political advantage. They've been on the defensive over the Violence Against Women Act for some time. A procedural argument that though the Senate passed its bill first and though House Republicans recently allowed transportation legislation through despite the same procedural issue the Senate has to take the House bill as its template is unlikely to be one of those rallying cries with which a party effectively gathers independents to its side. The key questions, then, are whether Democrats can continue to hold firm and push the message that it's not acceptable to pass a Violence Against Women Act that intentionally fails to protect some groups because Republicans don't like them, and what hostages Republicans will try to take to extract concessions from Democrats.
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