Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Return of VAWA?

It's gone. It's done. It's back?

Last we checked on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it was left to expire as the 112th Congress failed to renew it. House Republicans, like Nevada's own Joe Heck, killed it because of "tea party" animosity toward LGBTQ women and women of color. Even as many Senate Republicans, like Nevada's own Dean Heller, crossed over to pass the Senate VAWA renewal, the House G-O-TEA faction nonetheless pressured their leaders to kill the bill.

But now, it's back. A bipartisan group of US Senators have reintroduced VAWA in their chamber. And Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) has some strong language for "tea party" Republicans who are trying to kill this bill (again).

“The fate of the Violence Against Women Act still lays squarely on the shoulders of Eric Cantor and John Boehner. To date they have refused to listen to countless law enforcement and women’s groups as well as moderate voices in their own party in the House and Senate who’ve said we need to pass the Senate’s bipartisan bill that extends protections to millions of new women.

“In a new Congress, on a newly reintroduced bill, the House Republican leadership faces the same choice. They can either kowtow [to] those on the far right of their caucus who would turn battered women away from care, or they can stand with Democrats, moderate Republicans, and the many millions of Americans who believe that who a person loves, where they live, or their immigration status shouldn’t determine whether they are protected from violence.

“In the days ahead, I encourage the moderate Republican voices in the House to call on their leadership to pass the bipartisan Senate bill. Too many women have been left vulnerable while House Republican leaders have played politics.”

So what have we heard lately from House Republican leadership? Wait, what was that? [crickets]

[...] House Republican leaders remain silent on how they intend to proceed, which suggests that there has not been a breakthrough since last year, when the bill fell prey to the House GOP’s resistance to expand coverage to gays, illegal immigrants and Native Americans who have suffered domestic abuse. [...]

The [now fast-tracked Senate VAWA] puts pressure on House Republicans to act on the widely popular measure, which expired in 2011 but has continued to receive funding through the appropriations process. House Democrats have introduced the same bill as the Senate. It eliminates a provision from last year’s Senate-passed bill which raised revenue. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) cited that provision in declining to move on the bill. Revenue-raising measures must originate in the House, according to the Constitution. By stripping out that language, proponents hope to deny Boehner use of that procedural objection.

So far, House Republican leaders have been mum on the issue. Two House GOP leadership aides did not respond to requests for comment.

There's broad bipartisan support for VAWA. Last year, the Senate passed it 68-31. Why can't the House pass this badly needed legislation?

As long as the House keeps dodging on this, we'll keep highlighting it here. Why should millions of American women be left vulnerable to prolonged domestic violence? Because teabaggers don't like queer folk and Native American communities? Seriously?

Joe Heck and other House Republicans throw a temper tantrum whenever anyone points out their War on Women agenda. If they actually want to prove the critics wrong, they can start by passing the comprehensive Violence Against Women Act that's set to pass the Senate easily (again).

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