Senators Cantwell, Murray fight to save women's bill

By:  John Kerns
Source: My Northwest

A fight over renewal of a longtime domestic violence  program in the U.S. Senate is turning into a battle of the  sexes, and Washington's two female senators are taking  center stage.

"I am furious," Democrat Maria Cantwell told the New York Times."We're mad, and we're tired of it."

Conservatives are seeking to kill the Violence Against  Women Act, a longstanding measure that would increase  funding and expand the reach of domestic violence  programs.

A group of female Senate Democrats led by Cantwell and  fellow Washington senator Patty Murray marched Thursday to  the Capitol to protest what they say is just the latest in  an all out assault on women's rights.  It follows a  rancorous battle over President Obama's contraception  funding mandate.

"Many of us women have come to the floor over the last few  weeks to fight back against attempts to turn back the  clock when it comes to women's health care. I'm  disappointed these issues kept coming up, but I know I  stand with millions of men and women across America who  remain ready to defend the gains we've made over the last  50 years," Murray said in a speech on the Senate floor.

The legislation would continue funding for a number of  programs such as battered women's shelters and free legal  assistance.  It would also expand the legal definition of  violence against women to include stalking and and provide  more support for law enforcement and courts to assist  victims.

But conservatives oppose parts including expansion of  protection for same-sex couples and allowing temporary  visas for battered illegal immigrants, arguing Democrats  are trying to broadly stretch beyond the intention of the  legislation, which has previously enjoyed bipartisan  support since it was enacted in 1994.