The Violence Against Women Act will be put up for a vote once again tomorrow, after Congress failed to reauthorize it last year for the first time since 1994. House Republicans are now allowing for the Senate version to be put up for a vote, rather than pushing for the House bill , which left out significant legislation targeted towards the LGBT community, immigrants, and Native Americans.
The biggest point of contention on the Senate bill: the ability of tribal courts to prosecute non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on reservations. Representatives of organizations such as NOW have stated that Native American women need these provisions to ensure that their abusers will be brought to justice.
However, the vote on the Senate bill will only be approved if the House version fails to pass. NOW has pointed to this process as “the new stealth strategy” of the Republican Party, part of the war on women Americans have been protesting since legislative restrictions on healthcare such as cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and mandating invasive procedures have been enacted:
“since voters rejected their overtly anti-woman policies in the 2012 elections — the bill is deceptively numbered S. 47. The House version is not the Senate bill but a wholesale ‘substitute amendment’ carried by House Republican Conference Co-Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). Their hope is not only that House members will be confused about the legislation, but also that if their substitute bill called S. 47 is approved, the Senate could be forced to negotiate over this bad bill.”
Terry O’Neill, president of NOW, elaborates on House majority leader Eric Cantor’s stealth strategy:
“Cantor has a 12-year history in Congress of voting to restrict women’s access to abortion, deny marriage rights to same-sex couples and block efforts to address workplace discrimination. He’s opposed to affirmative action, embryonic stem cell research and expanding hate crimes law to cover sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability. He even voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.”
Furthermore, not only does the substitute House version of the bill omit the protections in the Senate bill, but it also scales back current law, such as provisions that regulate sexual assault policies on college and university campuses. There are still hours left to see if your representative will actively combat the stealth war on VAWA.