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McCaskill Pressures House To Quickly Pass Violence Against Women Act

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

Standing in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) called out House Republican leadership for failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act -- legislation meant to protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Until recently, the act received bipartisan support since its inception in 1994.

House leadership didn't bring the Senate version to floor, allowing the VAWA to expire. Leadership cited problems with LGBT and Native American provisions in the bill. But McCaskill said she doesn’t buy the reasoning, and calls it a “fig leaf.”

“I can’t imagine they’d want to stop this program over the notion that there needs to be some stop-gap ability to stop people who may be beating their partners who may be living on Indian reservations,” McCaskill said.

“There is a huge number in the Republican caucus in the House that want to dismantle all government programs that come from the federal government," McCaskill said. "And I think VAWA is a casualty in that battle.”

Standing alongside St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, McCaskill spoke about the importance of the act, and criticized House leadership for not focusing on issues important to women.

"Funding will not continue if we don't get it done this year," McCaskill said. "We sent it to the House with a strong bipartisan support. And that's where it sits."

The Senate bill passed last week with 78 Senators in favor. Republican Senator Roy Blunt was one of the 22 who voted against it.

Last week, he told reporters last week that it stands no chance of passing the conservative House with the Native American provisions.

"My prediction is that I will vote for the extension of the VAWA when it happens," Blunt said. "But when it happens, they'll have work out the Indian reservation issues and the other real problems in that bill. The bill that was on the Senate floor will never become law."

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel