The Senate has passed a bill to renew the government's main domestic violence program.
The 68-31 vote to renew and expand the Violence Against Women Act. Fifteen Republicans joined Democrats in passage. The bill still faces hurdles in the House, where Republican leaders plan to offer an alternative proposal.
The 1994 law, written by now Vice-President Joe Biden, is designed to protect women and children from abuse, and historically has been without controversy. But this election year, gender politics roiled the debate for weeks.
Democrats accused Republicans standing in the way and waging a "war against women."
But Republicans never tried to block the measure. Instead, they proposed removing specific references to protecting gays, lesbian and transgender people, and capping the number of visas for battered immigrants.
The legislation now goes to the House. It would extend the legislation for five years – rather than one, as in the Senate bill – and would include many provisions similar to those in the Senate GOP proposal.
The House Republican version also aims to shift money to help process the backlog of rape kits, which can help to identify suspects in sexual abuse cases. A similar measure was defeated in the Senate, where Democrats argued it should be added to another bill.
The Senate-passed version also provides new protections for Native American women. Those provisions have drawn constitutional questions because they would allow individuals who aren’t Native American to be prosecuted for certain crimes in tribal courts.