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House eyes Violence Against Women Act

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) is one of the lead sponsors of VAWA in the Senate.
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) is one of the lead sponsors of VAWA in the Senate.Getty Images

It's been about a week since a bipartisan Senate majority overcame far-right opposition and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. All eyes quickly turned to the House, where VAWA died in the last Congress.

Though it's unclear what might happen in the lower chamber, we may not have to wait much longer to find out -- the Huffington Postreports that House Republican leaders intend to "move forward on legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act as soon as next week." Whether the House votes on the Senate bill or its own watered-down version remains to be seen.

While the process unfolds on Capitol Hill, though, I'm still fascinated by arguments from VAWA opponents. We talked a few weeks ago, for example, about the religious right movement's efforts to kill the bill because VAWA is used "to lobby for feminist objectives and laws." Today, National Review's Andrew Stiles raises a new line of criticism I hadn't heard before.

Welcome to the scorched-earth phase of the Democrats' "war on women" campaign, and the beginning of a ruthless offensive to hold their Senate majority, and possibly to retake the House, in 2014.

Democrats have nearly perfected the following exercise in cynical electioneering: 1) introduce legislation; 2) title it something that appeals to the vast majority of Americans who have no interest in learning what is actually in the bill, e.g., the "Violence Against Women Act"; 3) make sure it is sufficiently noxious to the GOP that few Republicans will support it; 4) vote, and await headlines such as "[GOP Lawmaker] Votes No On Violence Against Women Act"; 5) clip and use headline in 30-second campaign ad; and 6) repeat.

So, let me get this straight. Nearly two decades ago, Democrats and Republicans easily approved the Violence Against Women Act. It's been reauthorized since with overwhelming, bipartisan support (As recently as 2005, there was a GOP majority in the House, and VAWA was reauthorized on a vote of 415 to 4).

And now the same proposal is, what, a fiendish electoral scheme hatched by Democrats in their quest for a House majority? National Review thinks it's less likely policymakers simply want to help prevent domestic violence and more likely that cooked up a "ruthless" partisan plot in 1994, the results of which we're seeing now?