Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill made an impassioned pitch for passage of the Violence Against Women Act, asserting that the law "is not controversial" despite the House's refusal to take it up.
"My message today is we can fight about a lot of things in Washington," the senator said in Kansas City.
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"We have a lot of philosophical differences. But if have to fight over whether or not we want to keep women safe, whether or not we want to save lives, we’re in more trouble than we should be.”
She said the act, passed in 1994, has resulted in sharp drops in the number of domestic violence cases around the country.
McCaskill said she expects the law to eventually pass. The chief stumbling block is the House where the measure hasn't been taken up for a vote.
It just passed the Senate 78-22. When it first went into law, the bill passed the House 371-1 and the Senate 95-0. The law was reauthorized in 2005 by votes of 415-4 and 100-0.
"This shouldn't be allowed to languish," she said.
At stake is more than $6 million a year in domestic violence and transitional housing funding that flows to Missouri each year.
On another matter, McCaskill said she expects the Senate to eventually confirm former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary.
"This is the most embarrassing example of political gamesmanship I have seen," she said.
At issue is Hagel's personal relationships with some senators. McCaskill described the nominee as independent, outspoken and willing to swim upstream, which at times ruffled feathers in the Senate.