A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Friday, January 04, 2013

House Republicans Shamefully Kill VAWA

The Republicans in the 112th Congress, especially those in the House of Representatives, will have to go down in history as one of the meanest group of politicians this nation has seen. And there's no shortage of examples proving this. They have voted to cut free school lunches for poor children, voted to abolish Medicare, expressed a desire to cut Social Security benefits, voted to cut funds for Food Stamps (in spite of the increased need for them), voted repeatedly to abolish or defund the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare), voted against extending unemployment benefits, voted to cut funding to control pollution and clean up the environment, voted to spend money to defend DOMA, voted against funds to create jobs for veterans voted against regulating Wall Street, voted against stopping tax deductions that help corporations to outsource American jobs, voted for continuing unneeded tax subsidies for giant corporations, and voted against the president's plan to create jobs by rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.

Those are just a few of the hard-hearted things the House Republicans did (or tried to do) in the 112th Congress. But their meanness was never more apparent than in the way they showed their disregard and disrespect for American women. They have repeatedly attacked Planned Parenthood (which provides health care for hundreds of thousands of women nationwide), even though Planned Parenthood spent NO federal funds on abortions. Then they moved on to try and prevent the women of America from having free and easy access to contraception -- and when they held hearings on contraception rules, they had the temerity to refuse to allow any women to testify.

But the worse thing the House Republicans did was to kill the Violence Against Women Act. VAWA was passed in 1994 to fight the epidemic of domestic abuse in this country, and it was doing some good. But the law was set up so it needed to be re-authorized every six years. It was easily re-authorized in 2000 and 2006 on a bipartisan basis (with majorities of both parties voting for it). But that was before the teabaggers took over the Republican Party, and decided that ideology was more important than the lives of women (or any Americans for that matter).

The flimsy excuse House Republicans used for refusing to support VAWA this time was that the law now included immigrant women, Native American women, and domestic partners in the LGBT community. Now a decent person would think that domestic abuse is a bad thing no matter who was being abused, and that abuse must be fought against. But the House Republicans had a different view. For them, domestic abuse against immigrants, Native Americans, and those in the LGBT community is permissible, and the federal government should not do anything to stop it.

I can't imagine a meaner attitude than only wanting to protect parts of the population from the scourge of domestic abuse, while that abuse is tacitly approved of in other parts of the population. Doesn't that make a joke out of the equal protection guaranteed by our constitution? But the House Republicans didn't just oppose VAWA -- they refused to even bring it to the House floor for a vote (just in case a few in their party would join Democrats and get the bill passed).

The bill will be re-introduced in the Senate in the 113th Congress, and it will probably pass the Senate again. Sadly though, the House Republicans still constitute a majority in that body, and they still have the same leadership (Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy). There is no reason to believe they won't again block the bill. They should be deeply ashamed of themselves, but the sad fact is they have no shame -- only ideology (a very mean and hard-hearted ideology).

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