House Violence Against Women Act. (Official photo)
The House passed the Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization by a vote of 222 to 205, with six Democrats voting yes and 22 Republicans voting no, after an Orwellian afternoon debating the bill, with members from both parties extolling the importance of cracking down on violence against women even as they disagreed bitterly on the bill in question. The Orwellian flavor stemmed from the fact that the Republican bill excludes or weakens protections for LGBT, immigrant and Native American victims of violence—a Republican manager's amendment purported to address some Democratic concerns, but that did not adequately do so. House Republicans argued that passing this bill is very important and should be done in a bipartisan fashion, even as they refused to consider the Senate's actually bipartisan Violence Against Women Act—coauthored by a Republican and passed with 15 Republican votes.
Republicans repeatedly emphasized the bipartisan support for VAWA without acknowledging that their bill does not enjoy bipartisan support and that they have rejected a truly bipartisan bill. They also repeatedly insisted that their bill protects and supports victims, ignoring the opposition of a wide swath of domestic violence organizations, law enforcement groups and faith-based groups.
Democrats first opposed a rule prohibiting amendments, then offered a motion to recommit in an attempt to keep confidentiality protections from being gutted, with Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin detailing how as the victim of a violent rape in the 1970s, she felt put on trial as a single mother who must have invited her rape. Republicans, while rejecting bipartisanship and claiming that immigrant women use fraudulent allegations of abuse to get citizenship, wailed extensively about Democrats allegedly playing politics.