Today marks Day 2 of Rep. Eric Cantor’s attempts to rebrand the Republican Party, as the party agreed to do at a post-election GOP retreat. Just Tuesday, the House Majority Leader delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute highlighting his concern for immigrants, citing education and economic gain as factors for his endorsement of the DREAM Act. Even though Cantor himself helped block the DREAM Act in 2010, the Virginia congressman asked his colleagues on Tuesday to set aside “political divisions” and work towards a bipartisan solution on immigration reform.
Cantor continued his makeover efforts on Wednesday, hoping to increase the party’s appeal to female voters. In the 2012 election, President Obama performed strongly with both women and minority voters – winning the Latino vote by 71% to 27%, and carrying 55% of women voters.
Cantor is vulnerable to charges that he is delaying the reauthorization vote on the Violence Against Women Act. When Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., raised a question on the House floor about the status of VAWA, Cantor replied, “You know, I as a gentleman care very deeply about women in the abuse situation, that we need to get them the relief that this bill offers.”
Cantor continued: “We want to protect the women who are subject to abuse on tribal lands, and unfortunately there are issues that don’t directly bear on that that have come up, that have complicated it, as the gentleman knows. But in working with his office as well as the vice president’s, I hope to be able to deal with this and bring it up in a expeditious manner.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on its version of the act on Thursday, which includes protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence and Native American victims of violence by American citizens on tribal lands. While the House has remained silent on its plans for VAWA if the bill gets passed, many House Republicans have questioned whether U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights would be respected in tribal courts. Nevertheless, Cantor vowed that the bill is a priority in his chamber and insisted he truly wants to “make life work”–especially for women.