Sen. Dean Heller (Official photo)
The newly politicized fight to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act for the third time may have reached a tipping point. With the cosponsorship of Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, there are now 60 cosponsors, enough to overcome a filibuster if they all actually vote for the bill.
Heller joins Idaho's Mike Crapo, an author of the bill, Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Massachusetts' Scott Brown, and Illinois' Mark Kirk as a Republican supporting reauthorization. Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, the bill's other author, notes that "Fewer than a dozen bills introduced in the United States Senate this Congress have amassed 60 or more cosponsors."
Republicans—with the above-named exceptions—are trying to block reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because of, as Adam Serwer explains, gays, immigrants and Native Americans:
Republicans' biggest qualms are about provisions that make federal grants to domestic violence organizations contingent on nondiscrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender victims; rules extending the authority of tribal courts over domestic violence matters; and a section that would provide more visas for abused undocumented women who agree to cooperate with law enforcement.
Dean Heller and Scott Brown are both facing strong challenges from women, Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley and, of course, Elizabeth Warren. If that helps get their votes on this critical piece of legislation, excellent. But let's not forget that if Shelley Berkley and Elizabeth Warren were in the Senate, we wouldn't have to wonder about these votes.
Sign the petition telling Senate Republicans to reauthorize The Violence Against Women Act.