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Anti-abuse bill clearing hurdles in Senate

| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats, bolstered by Republican support, on Monday began a new attempt to broaden a law protecting women from domestic abuse by expanding its provisions to cover gays, lesbians and Native Americans.

The legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act appeared on a smooth path toward passage in the Senate, possibly by the end of this week. The vote to make the bill the next order of business was 85-8.

Senate passage would send the bill to the House. Advocates hope that Republicans, smarting from election losses among women voters in November, won't repeat their resistance last year to the Senate approach.

“Allowing partisan delays to put women's lives at risk is simply shameful,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the vote. He said he hoped convincing support for the legislation in the Senate would “send a strong message to House Republican leaders that further partisan delay is unacceptable.”

House Republicans, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, say reauthorizing the 1994 act, which expired in 2011, is a priority. But resolving partisan differences remains an obstacle: Last year, the House and Senate passed bills, but the House would not go along with Senate provisions that single out gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders for protection and give tribal authorities more power to prosecute non-Indians who attack Indian partners on tribal lands.

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