This Week’s Battle in the War on Women

Who Will Vote Against the Violence Against Women Act?

Tomorrow, the Senate will return from a two-day break and debate the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The landmark law is supposed to be reauthorized every five years, as has happened every five years since 1994 without controversy or serious opposition. Unfortunately, Congress allowed the law to expire in September 2011 and vital programs are now in danger of losing funding. And, for the first time ever,  Republicans are now blocking efforts to reauthorize the law.

Last year, the Senate passed a VAWA reauthorization — updated with expanded protections for immigrants, LGBT people, and Native Americans and other important changes — on an overwhelming, bipartisan basis. But here’s a reminder of the senators who opposed it last year:

Notice anything the opponents all had in common?

The reauthorization ultimately died in the House after Republicans under the leadership of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) refused to take up the Senate bill because of its protections for immigrants, LGBT people, and Native Americans.

Undaunted, Senate and House Democrats have launched another all-out push to get VAWA over the line. Earlier this week, the Senate voted to begin debating the law. Astoundingly, eight Republican senators — all men — voted against merely debating the bill: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID). Four of these senators, Sens. Cruz, Lee, Paul, and Risch, take their opposition even further and believe the law to be unconstitutional.

As we discussed yesterday, the GOP is attempting to “rebrand” itself. It would certainly be an auspicious start to this effort if Republicans once again oppose VAWA en masse and continue to block it in the House.

We’ll be watching the vote this week and be sure and keep you updated on supports protecting all women from violence and who does not.

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Advocacy Team