With the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill getting most of the press this week, there are plenty other high profile bills that got left by the wayside. The GOP lead Congress is now taking heat for letting a fairly bipartisan bill, The Violence Against Women Act, go unaddressed. So now under House rules, it will have to be taken up by the new Congress, which is just as unlikely to pass it as this one was.
As far as easy to pass bills go, this one seemed like a slam dunk. The Violence Against Women Act was approved by the Senate by a 68 to 31 vote and was crafted by a liberal Democrat (Senator Patrick Leahy) and a conservative Republican (Senator Mike Crapo). It was passed in 2000 and reauthorized in 2005 without any hassle.
So why did Congress ignore it this year?
House Republicans insisted it was too supportive of immigrants, gays, and Native Americans. Rather then reauthorize the bill and go on record supporting something that their constituents (or potentially more conservative primary challengers) could use against them, they decided to just let the law die. The White House dispatched Vice-President Biden to try to get Majority Leader Eric Cantor to get the bill voted on but to no avail.
Senator Patty Murray, the Democratic point person on Violence Against Women Act, said in a statement:
“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”
As for electoral considerations, Republicans lost badly in the 2012 elections, thanks in large part to the largest gender gap in modern times, but the House Republican leadership seems to not care.
The only thing for certain is, until the Violence Against Women Act is reauthorized, States will have considerably less Federal help to fight domestic violence and other women’s issues.