What with that whole State of the Union address and doctor-assisted death debate, you might've missed yesterday's other big political story: the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a measure to reauthorize the expired Violence Against Women Act.
Sure, it sounds like renewing VAWA would be a layup, but the seemingly uncontroversial reauthorization has been held up by inter-cameral bickering between, you guessed it, House Republicans and Senate Democrats.
The biggest obstacle to passage? A dust-up over whether Native American cops and courts can go after non-natives who commit sex crimes on tribal land, as the New York Times's Jonathan Weisman explains here.
Tuesday's 78-22 vote was a big victory for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the bill's lead sponsor. He's been fighting hard for VAWA's reauthorization alongside Republican cosponsor Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). Yes, that Mike Crapo. Among the 22 Republican senators to vote against the bill? This tall drink of water.
Vermont's junior senator, Bernie Sanders, joined Leahy in supporting the bill.
Like last year, when the House and Senate passed competing versions of the law's reauthorization and failed to forge a compromise, the House is expected to introduce a narrower version soon. But as Politico's Seung Min Kim reports, Leahy pressured House members at a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday to take up the Senate version, arguing that lawmakers shouldn't "pick and choose" which victims to protect.
"A victim is a victim is a victim," Leahy told reporters. "And violence is violence is violence."