06 February 2013

GOP senators vote to block help for abused women

Until the Tea Party extremists got control of the GOP, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was never a partisan issue. It was born during the Bill Clinton administration, and then reauthorized with bipartisan support in 2000 and 2005. Makes sense, right? No one wants to go on record as voting against a bill that would help victims of domestic violence and abuse.

That was then.

This is now:

VAWA has again expired, and the GOP has been working hard to block its renewal this time around. Last year the bill got nowhere because of conservative Republicans who opposed extending the Act's protections to LGBT individuals and undocumented immigrants, as well as a provision that would give Native American tribal authorities jurisdiction over sex crimes committed by non-Native-Americans on tribal lands. Apparently the GOP believes that those poor victims - lesbian/bi/trans women, undocumented immigrants, and reservation dwellers abused by non-Indians - should be left to suffer without protection or support. Nice, huh?

Now VAWA has been reintroduced. On February 4, the Senate voted 85-8 to bring it to the floor for discussion. But that means that eight senators voted to block it. In other words, eight senators don't think it's even worth talking about.

Here is a list of those eight senators:

• 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)
• James Risch (R-ID)

I think these guys have some explaining to do - especially to their female constituents.

Meantime, VAWA's future in the GOP-dominated House remains to be seen. There it could well get even uglier.

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