We talked last week about an unfortunate attempt at political spin: at least eight House Republicans issued press releases claiming they voted for the Violence Against Women Act, even though they opposed the bipartisan legislation signed into law last week.
Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) rhetorical tactics weren’t quite as outrageous, but they were close.
Shortly after Obama signed the VAWA reauthorization, Cornyn released a statement titled, “Cornyn Bill to Eliminate Nationwide Rape Kit Backlog Signed Into Law.” He hails the passage of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act, which helps to reduce the number of rape kits in the possession of law enforcement authorities but not yet tested. The SAFER Act was rolled into the VAWA bill before it passed the Senate.
“An unacceptable national backlog of untested rape kits has compounded the pain for too many victims of sexual assault over the years. Today, we take a significant step toward reducing that backlog,” Cornyn said. “I’m pleased with the wide bipartisan support the SAFER Act received and with the President’s signature today, law enforcement can begin working immediately to test outstanding kits and see that justice is served.”
Now, it’s true that Cornyn supported the SAFER Act. I’ll gladly give him credit for doing so and I’m glad the proposal was included in the Violence Against Women Act. But what he neglected to mention while celebrating its success is that if Cornyn’s position had prevailed, the entire proposal would have failed – he supported an amendment to legislation he opposed and voted to kill.
In other words, Cornyn voted against VAWA, then cheered VAWA’s success after it passed despite his opposition. The Texas Republican backed a provision within the law, which apparently gave Cornyn some pride of authorship, even though, if he had his way, both the SAFER Act and the Violence Against Women Act would have failed.
I’d like to propose a simple rule: those who reject legislation don’t get to send out laudatory press releases when the legislation passes anyway.