Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty(rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
This past week a vote was taken in the United States Senate and it was not a vote to end a filibuster! The vote that I am referring to was a vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.(VAWA) It was noteworthy that the vote actually took place at all, but the results of the vote were especially interesting. The vote to reauthorize VAWA, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, passed by a 78 to 22 margin. All 22 votes against the measure were by male Republican members of the Senate.
Before we disclose some of the members who voted against this bill, let’s discuss just what this bill has done for women. “As the country celebrates the 18th anniversary of the legislation, here are some of the victories achieved through VAWA:
- Victims can call for help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established as part of VAWA. It currently serves over 22,000 victims a month and has taken a total of 3 million calls.
- Law enforcement officers are trained to help victims. 500,000 law enforcement officials, judges, and prosecutors a year are trained with VAWA funding to help domestic abuse victims.
- Partner violence and homicides fell. From the year before VAWA’s passage until 2008, the number of women being killed by partners dropped 43 percent, and partner violence against women fell 53 percent.
- Stalking became illegal. Before VAWA, stalking was not a federal crime. The law established stalking as a felony offense.
- Rape is rape, no exceptions. Since the passage of VAWA, each state in the United States has updated its laws so that rape by a partner is treated equally to rape by a stranger.” Think Progress
I guess I could understand a Senator voting against the reauthorization if they thought the bill was too expensive and had not been successful in protecting women in the past, but that does not seem to be the case. Some of the reasons the dissenting Senators gave for voting against the VAWA are startling. One reason given was that the VAWA reauthorization included Native American women and LGBT women and undocumented women.
“Two Senators — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — also offered significant amendments to the VAWA bill. Grassley’s amendment stripped all Native American, LGBT, and undocumented victim protections. It was voted down on Thursday of last week. Cornyn’s, aimed exclusively on the bill’s language relating to tribal lands, failed on Monday. Grassley and Cornyn amendments
Does it surprise you that all 22 of the dissenting Senators were male? If this act was so bad, you would think that at least one female Senator would have voted against it. Even in this current political climate, I just cannot understand how approving a bill that has helped prevent violence against women could be voted against by anyone. Eight of the Senators even voted against moving the bill ahead to a vote.
The original VAWA passed in 1994 with even more Republican Senators voting against it, so maybe we are making progress. VAWA As I think about it, there were probably fewer female members of the Senate in 1994, so maybe we are not making progress after all. Why do you think that some of the dissenting Senators wanted to omit Native American women from the VAWA protections? Aren’t Native American women citizens? I realize that some of the Republican’s Native American concerns involve the Native American courts being able to deal with non-Native American participants. LA Times
From a political standpoint, I was surprised to see so many Republican Senators vote against reauthorizing VAWA. Especially in light of the Republican Party’s public attempts to court Hispanic voters, it seems strange that some of the leading Republicans in the Senate would vote against a bill designed to continue programs that have helped protect women at risk.
I think we should ask Senate Minority leader McConnell and GOP Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio and Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Chuck Grassley, and the other dissenting Senators, if they think women do not deserve the legal protections afforded them in this important piece of legislation. Would women in these dissenting Senator’s states agree with their votes on this legislation? Do these gentlemen remember how many voters are women? What do you think of this legislation?