A fight over renewal of a longtime domestic violence program in the U.S. Senate is turning into a battle of the sexes, and Washington's two female senators are taking center stage.
"I am furious," Democrat Maria Cantwell told the New York Times. "We're mad, and we're tired of it."
Conservatives are seeking to kill the Violence Against Women Act, a longstanding measure that would increase funding and expand the reach of domestic violence programs.
A group of female Senate Democrats led by Cantwell and fellow Washington senator Patty Murray marched Thursday to the Capitol to protest what they say is just the latest in an all out assault on women's rights. It follows a rancorous battle over President Obama's contraception funding mandate.
"Many of us women have come to the floor over the last few weeks to fight back against attempts to turn back the clock when it comes to women's health care. I'm disappointed these issues kept coming up, but I know I stand with millions of men and women across America who remain ready to defend the gains we've made over the last 50 years," Murray said in a speech on the Senate floor.
The legislation would continue funding for a number of programs such as battered women's shelters and free legal assistance. It would also expand the legal definition of violence against women to include stalking and and provide more support for law enforcement and courts to assist victims.
But conservatives oppose parts including expansion of protection for same-sex couples and allowing temporary visas for battered illegal immigrants, arguing Democrats are trying to broadly stretch beyond the intention of the legislation, which has previously enjoyed bipartisan support since it was enacted in 1994.