House GOPers pressure leadership on Violence Against Women Act

Boehner and Cantor have stalled reauthorizing the law over protections for Native American women

Topics: Violence Against Women, domestic violence, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, House Republicans,

Ten House Republicans signed a letter urging John Boehner and Eric Cantor to stop stalling a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act over protections for Native American women.

In the letter, the 10 Republicans, along with 110 Democrats, called on Boehner and Cantor “to move quickly on the reauthorizaiton of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by bringing a bill inclusive of protections for all victims of domestic violence, similar to that which has already passed in the Senate, to the House floor for a vote.”

The letter continues that “Each time that VAWA has come up for reauthorization, bipartisan cooperation has swiftly moved it forward so that even more protections for victims of domestic violence become available and accessible. This must be the case again. We strongly urge you to move past politics and send a VAWA reauthorization bill to the President that he can sign immediately.”

Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post explains:

The bipartisan Senate bill includes new protections for members of the LGBT community, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans, and the House bill, which passed with only Republican votes, does not. So far, House Republican leaders have refused to accept the Senate additions, calling them politically driven. In the meantime, the issue has stalled and VAWA was left to expire, for the first time in its 18-year history, in September 2011.

The fact that some House Republicans are now publicly calling on their party leaders to get behind a more inclusive bill is notable, given their relative silence on the matter in the months since passing their pared-down bill. Meanwhile, some Senate Republicans who voted against the Senate bill have recently had a change of heart and now want the House to pass it.

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But even a less inclusive version of the Senate bill has stalled in the House. A group of other Republicans, including Reps. Darrell Issa, Calif., and Tom Cole, Okla., had proposed a compromise that would extend the protections to just Native American women on tribal reservations, but Cantor has still held up the reauthorization.

Cantor and other conservatives are concerned about constitutional protections for non-Native Americans accused of abusing Native American women, even though, as ThinkProgress points out, the “current Senate version of VAWA includes a full set of constitutional protections for suspects of abuse, including due-process rights and a right to counsel.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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