Another Thursday Jolt: Violence Against Women Act Passes
The day's winners and losers.
Today's loser: US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5).
McMorris Rodgers—the sponsor of a version of the Violence Against Women Act that would have explicitly excluded lesbian, queer, and transexual women, along with Native American women and undocumented immigrants, from federal protection against domestic violence—had to swallow her pride (or, ahem, prejudice) and vote today for a Senate-approved version of VAWA that protects all women, not just those she deemed worthy of protection against violence.
McMorris Rodgers, remember, is the same Congresswoman who argued against not just VAWA but the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (which expands the right of female victims of employment discrimination to sue for lost wages), contraception coverage under Obamacare, and access to abortion; in an interview on "Meet the Press," for example, McMorris Rodgers argued that "the 'War on Women' is a myth" concocted by Democrats in Congress to distract people from "real" economic issues.
Although McMorris Rodgers has not returned PubliCola's email seeking comment, it's hard to see her vote for VAWA today as anything other than a capitulation to the Republicans' new realization that hating on gay people, women, racial minorities, and other marginalized people isn't winning them any votes, whatever people think about the federal budget. Although 166 House Republicans opposed the less inclusive version of VAWA, 87 supported the more inclusive version.
Washington State US Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3), another longtime opponent of the inclusive version of VAWA, also voted for the bill, as did Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA, 8). Doc Hastings (R-WA-4) voted against it.
Today's winners, of course, include McMorris Rodgers' Congressional colleagues Rep. Suzan DelBene, a first-term House member from northwestern Washington's sprawling 1st District who sponsored VAWA in the House, and longtime Senator Patty Murray, who has been the most vocal advocate for the inclusive Senate version of VAWA.
In a statement today, DelBene (D-WA, 1) said, “I’m proud that one of my first acts in office was co-sponsoring the House version of the bipartisan Senate bill that we passed today.
Meanwhile, Murray—pulling no punches against the House, which allowed VAWA to expire last month—said the bill's approval "means that finally, after over 16 months of struggle, tribal women, the LGBT community, immigrants, and women on college campuses will have the tools and resources this life-saving bill provides.
“There is absolutely no reason that it should have taken this long for the House leadership to come around on a bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support. But passage today is a validation of what we’ve been saying since this bill expired in 2011VAWA has never been, and should never be, a partisan bill. That is why I applaud moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill."