While everyone was so focused on the fiscal cliff, the Violence Against Women Act was allowed to die silently alone in a corner.
Thanks to House Republican leaders’ failure to push through the Senate’s reauthorization, the Violence Against Women Act, which was originally passed in 1994, no longer exists. The Huffington Post reports:
In April, the Senate with bipartisan support passed a version of VAWA that extended protections to three groups of domestic violence victims who had not been covered by the original law, but House Republicans refused to support the legislation with those provisions, saying the measures were politically driven. Instead, they passed their own VAWA bill without the additional protections.
The three groups in question are Native Americans, immigrants, and the LGBT community. The new bill would have extended the same protections already afforded to the majority of women by the original legislation to over 30 million more people in these groups, but the GOP would rather the VAWA expire completely than allow the broader protections be signed into law. The talks apparently broke down over House Republicans’ refusal to accept a key protection for Native American women that was included—and approved with 68 votes—in the Senate bill.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), a key backer of the Senate version of VAWA said:
I think they are still so kowtowing to the extreme on the right that they’re not even listening to the moderates, and particularly the women, in their caucus who are saying they support this.
All of this comes despite indications that several Republican members of the House were open to the newer Senate provisions. Still, House leadership chose not to raise the question of a vote. This decision speaks volumes to where the leadership in the GOP stand on women’s rights. They claim that the new provisions were “politically motivated,” but their refusal to even address the VAWA Tuesday night seems to be motivated by nothing other than the twisted politics we have come to expect from the fanatical conservatives that have taken over the Republican Party.
How can you pass a law to protect people, in this case women, and then justify excluding a significant portion of that group?
How can the U.S. speak out against crimes against women in other countries, such as gang rape and domestic abuse in India, while sitting back and allowing the US Congress to ignore the expiration of our own Violence Against Women Act?