Chalk up another blow to the “Hastert rule”. Today the U.S. House approved the Senate’s version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, even though a majority of House Republicans opposed the bill. All 199 Democrats present were part of the 286 to 138 majority supporting the bill, including Iowans Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02). Unburdened by the prospect of a competitive GOP primary for U.S. Senate, Tom Latham (IA-03) was among 87 House Republicans who also voted for the bill. Steve King (IA-04) was one of 138 Republicans to oppose it.
The Violence Against Women Act’s previous reauthorization expired at the end of September 2011, but last year the House and Senate failed to reconcile the bills passed in each chamber. (Iowa’s representatives split on party lines over the House version of the Violence Against Women Act.) The contentious issues centered on protections for LGBT victims of violence, undocumented immigrants, and a provision granting tribal courts “full civil jurisdiction over non-Indians based on actions allegedly taken in Indian Country.” House Republican leaders capitulated on those issues by allowing the Senate’s bill to pass today.
Loebsack’s official comment on today’s vote is after the jump. I’ll update this post with more political reaction as needed.
UPDATE: Added comments from Braley and King below. Note the priceless double-speak from King: he emphasizes voting for the Violence Against Women Act, not clarifying that he voted for the Republican effort to substitute the House version of the bill, which failed. His press release does not acknowledge that on final passage, King voted against the bill President Barack Obama’s going to sign. How many Iowa media will report that King voted for the reauthorization, without realizing that he only voted for the House version? Request to Bleeding Heartland readers who live in IA-04: please let me know if you hear a news story that wrongly implies King voted for the Violence Against Women Act.
Statement from Representative Dave Loebsack, February 28:
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed S. 47, The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). After a long delay, the House has finally allowed a vote on the Senate legislation which passed last year and again this year with the support every female Republican Senator and which has the support of over 1,300 domestic violence, sexual assault, and law enforcement groups. Loebsack is a cosponsor of the bipartisan, comprehensive bill.
“I am very pleased that House leaders finally heard the public’s call from women and men across the country, along with over a thousand organizations and groups and allowed a vote on the bipartisan, comprehensive Violence Against Women Act. I was proud to stand with my colleagues and cosponsor this important legislation. It was unconscionable that politics held up the reauthorization for as long as it has, it is long overdue. Today is an important day for women and families in Iowa and across the nation.”
Statement from Representative Bruce Braley, February 28 (emphasis in original):
Braley Applauds House Passage of Violence Against Women Act Renewal
Bill renews critical domestic violence protections; expands protections for Native American women
Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today applauded the US House’s passage of a broadly bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for five more years. Braley signed on last year as the first male cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2012, and he voted in favor of the bill that passed today.
Today’s legislation also strengthens domestic violence protections for Native Americans by expanding the authority of tribes to protect women on their reservations and hold criminal perpetrators accountable.
“Renewing the Violence Against Women Act will help break the cycle of violence against women, and provide victims the care they need,” Braley said. “Unfortunately, this type of violence is far too common and transcends politics, race, and religion.
“I’m especially happy about bipartisan improvements to the bill to expand protections of Native American women. Leaders like Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma have put partisanship aside to pass a bill that respects the sovereignty of tribal governments, and protects Native American women. For too long, domestic abusers on tribal lands have taken advantage of legal loopholes to evade accountability for their criminal actions. This bill closes those loopholes and strengthens the law.
“I urge the President to sign the Violence Against Women Act renewal into law as quickly as possible.”
First signed into law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act enhanced the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women and significantly strengthened penalties for offenders convicted of violent crimes against women. The law also required the federal prosecution of interstate domestic violence and sexual assault crimes, and guaranteed the interstate enforcement of protection orders. The annual incidence of domestic violence has dropped more than 50% since the law was originally enacted.
The Violence Against Women Act expired at the end of 2012; without Congressional action today, its important protections would have continued to lapse.
The legislation has already been approved by the Senate and heads to the President’s desk for his signature.
Braley’s district includes Iowa’s largest Indian reservation in Tama County.
Statement from Representative Steve King, February 28 (emphasis in original):
King Votes in Support of Violence Against Women Act
Washington, DC- Congressman Steve King released the following statement today after voting in support of the House version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2013 on the House floor. VAWA channels federal funding to programs that aid in helping women who are victims of domestic abuse, stalking, and sexual assault.
“Although I am concerned that this bill was brought to the floor in a manner that undermined work done by the Judiciary Committee, I understand the importance of reauthorizing VAWA to ensure its resources are available to help fight domestic abuse and sexual assault,” said King. “I supported this legislation because I know how important it is to empower women in difficult situations. If a woman is at risk, she should know that she has a place to turn for support and assistance. I supported VAWA in 2005, 2012, and today I voted in support of the House version to see that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault have access to the resources and protection when they need it the most.”