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Domestic Violence Bill Passes

Violence Against Women Act passes despite significant Republican opposition.

Victims of domestic violence will now have easier access to federal help.

After more than a year of partisan bickering the house has passed a Senate expansion of the Violence Against Women Act.

Republicans and Democrats have been fighting about how to expand this act since it expired in 2011.

It's estimated more than one million women a year suffer a physical assault by an intimate partner.

The new bill guarantees on-going support for victims of domestic violence.

Vice President Joe Biden, a sponsor of the original act, celebrated while attending an event combating teen dating violence.

"This is the proudest cause I've ever been associated with," Biden said.

The Senate re-authorization bill expands protections to gays and lesbians, improves access to help and information on college campuses, increases power for native American courts to try abuse cases on tribal lands and guarantees support to immigrants and human trafficking victims.

Victims advocate and National Organization for Women president Terry O'Neill had been fighting Republican resistance to these measures since the act expired in 2011.

"Unbelievably frustrating, and I will tell you this thing should have been done in the 112th Congress," she said.

House Republicans tried to pass their own scaled-back version of the act, but failed.  

Many Republicans decided to support the Senate bill only after their party did poorly among women in last fall's election.

The bill now goes to President Obama's desk.

He has already said he looks forward to signing it.
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