With Most Republicans Voting No, Violence Against Women Act Passes House

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 28 2013 11:57 AM

With Most Republicans Voting No, Violence Against Women Act Passes House

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Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) addresses the crowd at a rally in support of the Violence Against Women Act on Capitol Hill on June 26, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

BuzzFeed's Rebecca Berg predicted it half a day before it came to the floor. House Republicans had a dilemma. Did they vote for the Senate's version of the Violence Against Women Act, a bill that included poison pills (like reform of tribal trials) that they always opposed? Or could they pass their own version?

They couldn't. "House leaders reached the decision to pitch the Senate bill late Tuesday," wrote Berg, "only once it became clear a House version of the measure could not pass. At a meeting earlier in the evening among members of the Whip team, which counts votes, the contingency of the Senate bill coming to the floor was not even raised."

Shortly before noon, the House voted down the conservative replacement, introduced (in what might have counted as good optics, if anybody noticed) by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. It went on to pass the Senate bill, 286-138, with only 87 Republicans joining every single Democrat. The rump of Republican support came largely from members in semi-competitive districts, and members with statewide electoral ambitions, like West Virginia Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock. The "no" votes came from safe seats.

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"What does it mean," one reporter asked North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry after the vote, "that once again a bill passed with most Republicans voting no?"

McHenry, who had been riffing with reporters, answered crisply: "It is what it is." He turned and left the speaker's lobby, away from the press.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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