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Senate Passes Violence Against Women Act, Oklahoma Senators Vote 'No'

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U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn. U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn.

In a solid show of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate has voted to renew the two-decade-old Violence Against Women Act with new provisions to ensure that gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women have equal access to the act's anti-domestic violence programs.

The act is credited with aiding millions of domestic violence victims and reducing domestic abuse in the U.S. It expired in 2011 and Congress has struggled to replace it.

Both the House and the Senate passed bills last year, but House Republicans balked at the expansions in the act pushed by Senate Democrats, and no compromise was reached.

This most recent iteration was passed in a vote of 78-22.

Oklahoma Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe were among the 22 "no" votes.

Despite the bill's passage in the Senate, it may have trouble in the House of Representatives.  Republicans have voiced ongoing concerns about a provision that would enable the prosecution in tribal courts of attackers who are not of American Indian descent.

Some Republicans, Senator Coburn included, have objected to this provision on the grounds that it expands the reach of tribal court power. While the New York Times reported last week that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is trying to work out a compromise on the matter, there has been no word of any progress.

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