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House, Senate battle emerges on bill to protect women against violence

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate appeared headed for another partisan battle as the House prepared to take up its version of the once-noncontroversial Violence Against Women Act.

The Republican-crafted House bill to renew the popular 1994 act, which expired in 2011, was introduced Friday to instant criticism from Senate Democrats, who said it fell short in fulfilling the law’s mission of protecting women from domestic violence.

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The office of House majority leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia,defended the bill, saying Cantor was committed to reauthorizing the law and had worked hard to build consensus between the two parties and with advocacy groups.

The Senate passed its version of the measure last week on a bipartisan vote of 78 to 22, and Senate supporters, joined by House Democrats, have been urging House GOP leaders to model their legislation after the Senate bill.

The House bill, due for a vote next week, moved toward the Senate on the issue of giving tribal authorities the power to prosecute non-Indians in domestic violence cases but drew fire on other points.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the House version ‘‘will not provide critical protections for rape victims, domestic violence victims, human trafficking victims, students on campuses, or stalking victims.’’

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, said it stripped protections in the Senate bill for the lesbian and gay community and ‘‘drastically reduces protections for women on tribal lands.’’

The law provides federal grants for programs such as transitional housing, law enforcement training, legal assistance, antiviolence hot lines, and improving campus safety.

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