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Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has been working on the bill behind the scenes, a holdover from last year when Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. implored him to act on a bill Biden once sponsored when he was in the Senate.
Republicans, though, are aware of the scrutiny they have received from the left that their refusal to take up the Senate bill is “anti-woman.” Last Congress they gave messaging duties for the bill to then-Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Fla., a one-time victim of domestic abuse and a law enforcement officer. They are likely to again delegate the chief messaging on the bill to a female member of their conference, perhaps the highest-ranking woman, Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
The question also remains whether leadership would bypass regular order and bring the measure straight to the floor, as House Democrats have called on them to do, or whether the Judiciary Committee would hear it first, as was the case last year. When asked last week, Boehner said only, “it may, it may not.”
“We’re fully committed to doing anything we can to protect women in or society, and I expect that the House will act in a timely fashion in some way,” he said.
The amendment process in committee could be politically perilous. Arizona GOP Rep. Trent Franks, chairman of a subcommittee that could have jurisdiction over the bill, said he would be keen on bringing abortion into the discussion.
“There are those of us that when we see something like aborting little girls because they’re little girls instead of boys, if that’s not violence against women, I’m deceived,” he said. “I think it should go to committee. I just want to make sure the true position of the House is reflected.”
Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., declined to comment on the matter, and his spokeswoman, Kathryn Rexrode, did not return multiple requests for comment.