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Delay in Normally Bipartisan Protection for Women

September 4, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Republican women say the GOP is not at war with women, but the party is catching some heat for stalling reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. According to Sue Julian with the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the past the act has always had bipartisan support in Congress. She is disappointed to see the legislation delayed, she says.

"All of us who are in the trenches and do the work on a daily basis were taken by surprise."

Republicans in the House of Representatives object to expanding the act to cover disenfranchised groups of women.
Julian was working on domestic violence issues when the act was first passed in 1994. She says the fact that the act has always had nonpartisan support has made the job of preventing domestic violence easier.

"That bipartisan effort has become a hallmark of the Violence Against Women Act. It's often held up as one example of how Congress can really come together."

Some say the dispute over the act is not that important. Donna Balkema, an honorary New Jersey delegate at the Republican National Convention, which concluded last week, contends there is no war on women.

"I think it's artificial; I think it's totally blown out of proportion. If I thought that they were - Republicans were - against women, I would not be a Republican."

Most observers expect the act to be reauthorized, probably after the election. Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito was named to the House/Senate conference committee charged with reaching an agreement on the act.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV