Once Bipartisan, Violence Against Women Act Now Faces Political Fight

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The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the federal legislation aimed at ending violence against women and supporting victims of violence, is up for reauthorization this year. Senate Democrats plan to begin the push for reauthorization today. The original bill, passed in 1994, enjoyed strong support from both sides of the aisle. This year, Republican critics are voicing opposition, particularly to new programs included in this iteration of VAWA, including expanded programs for illegal immigrants to access visas by claiming domestic violence and support for victims in same-sex relationships. Democrats claim that this is the latest in Republicans' war on women. Republicans claim that federal money needs to be spent responsibly. What does this mean for the future of VAWA and for female voters in the 2012 election?

Joining us is Lynn Hecht Schafran, senior vice president of Legal Momentum, the women's legal defense and education fund. Lynn was part of the team that helped then-Senator Joe Biden draft and pass the original bill in 1994.