WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) -- Vice President Joe Biden urged the U.S. Congress Wednesday to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
Republicans, who hold the majority in the House, object to some additions to the bill, Politico said. They include expanding the protection of the act to same-sex couples and giving illegal immigrants who have experienced domestic violence temporary visas to remain in the United States.
"The idea we're still fighting about this in Congress, that this is even a debatable issue, is truly sad," Biden said in an event at the Eisenhower Office Building. "It's not a reflection on the law. It is a reflection on our inability in this town to deal with something that by now should just be over in terms of debate about it."
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday if Democratic leaders allow a vote on a GOP alternative, Republicans won't filibuster the Democratic bill, which has 61 sponsors, Roll Call reported.
"We're not going to extend this debate," Grassley said. "There won't be a cloture vote necessary, and they'll surely let us have a vote on our substitute."
Grassley contends the Democrats want to widen the law too far and at too great a cost, citing provisions covering American Indian tribes and protections for battered illegal immigrants, gays and lesbians.
"All these things add up to things that are keeping a bill that could pass on a voice vote from being passed," Grassley said. "Violence against women except for these additions is non-controversial. I'm afraid what they're doing here is they want a political issue -- you know, 'war on women' -- and they are going to end up with another one-year extension."
President Obama hopes to widen a gender gap with his presumed Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Recent polls give the president a double-digit lead among women.
Biden announced the president signed a memorandum ordering government departments to develop policies to deal with violence.