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McCaskill, Wagner laud competing versions of Violence Against Women Act

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 28, 2013 - Within hours after the U.S. House acted Thursday to pass overwhelmingly the Violence Against Women Act, Missourians were greeted to dueling accounts of what happened.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s campaign arm swiftly sent out an email to supporters telling them “Our pressure worked!”

“Thanks to the petition signatures of tens of thousands of supporters throughout the country, the House just passed the comprehensive, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act,” McCaskill declared in a statement that also featured a video of her appearance before the vote on MSNBC, calling for the act’s passage. “This crucial legislation is now heading to President (Barack) Obama's desk to become law.”

McCaskill was referring to the version supported by Democrats and passed in both chambers with the help of some Republicans.

But none of Missouri’s Republicans in Congress voted for that measure. Instead, a majority of House Republicans – including Missouri’s contingent – voted for a GOP version that didn’t include Democratic-sought provisions protecting gays or Native American victims on Indian reservations.

The GOP version failed.

However, U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, acted even faster than McCaskill to fire off an email to supporters that highlighted her support for the act – although Wagner didn’t make it clear that she opposed the version that passed.

"Today I was pleased to stand up for all women who are victims of violence and abuse. As a result, I voted for the strongest bill that would protect all women from acts of violence and help law enforcement prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” Wagner wrote. "I am committed to protecting all women from domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. This is not a political issue and Senate and House Democrats who have chosen to politicize the safety of women in the United States should be ashamed.”

McCaskill had targeted Wagner last Friday in an appearance in St. Louis, in which the senator had praised the Democratic version and called on Wagner to lobby for it.

Said McCaskill in a statement after the House’s approval of the Democratic version:

“In November, voters in Missouri and across the country -- including millions of women -- made their voices heard. They voted against extremism that said we don't need a minimum wage, and that women don't need equal pay for equal work or access to emergency contraception. And they voted against a Republican Party leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives that decided the Violence Against Women Act just wasn't important enough to renew.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.