When it comes to representing women’s interests, the Republican Party hasn’t exactly been impressive of late. In recent months, GOP officials, at a variety of levels, have launched aggressive campaigns targeting reproductive rights, access to contraception, and organizations like Planned Parenthood that play a critical role in women’s health care.
Amanda Terkel reports today on yet another Republican setback.
Protecting women from violence and abuse has been an issue of bipartisan cooperation since President Clinton signed the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. It was reauthorized with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2000 and again in 2005. Not this year.
On Feb. 2, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation (S. 1925) reauthorizing VAWA. The bill was sponsored by Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) – who is not on the committee – and cosponsored by 34 senators from both parties. Nevertheless, the legislation attracted no GOP support among committee members and passed out of committee on a party-line vote of 10-8. It was, according to Leahy’s office, the first time VAWA legislation did not receive bipartisan backing out of committee.
“Helping victims of domestic violence shouldn’t be partisan,” said Leahy in an interview with The Huffington Post.
Amanda added that the pending version of the bill – the one opposed by literally every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee – seeks to “place an increased emphasis on reducing domestic homicides and sexual assault, strengthen housing protections for domestic violence victims and focus more on the high rates of violence amongst teens and young adults.”
So what’s the problem? Apparently, Leahy also added provisions to bolster LGBT protections and defenses for victims of domestic abuse who are undocumented immigrants.
And Republicans can’t allow that.
A Democratic Senate aide, explaining the Republican objections, also told Amanda, “Frankly, they don’t like the words ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity.’”
At this point, the fate of the bill is uncertain.