The Violence Against Women Act is up for renewal; it was enacted with bipartisan support in 1994. So how bipartisan is the legislation in today’s hyper-polarized climate? To give you an idea, you need only consider the comments of Roy Blunt who, in his ongoing effort to get out front in the Republican War on Women without making women mad at him, opined that:
Obviously, you want to be for the title, … .If Republicans can’t be for it, we need to have a very convincing alternative.
Blunt’s leadership problem stems from the fact that his GOP boyos in the Senate most definitely aren’t for it. Why not, you ask? What are the new provisions that inspire such GOP revulsion? Read carefully:
The legislation would continue existing grant programs to local law enforcement and battered women shelters, but would expand efforts to reach Indian tribes and rural areas. It would increase the availability of free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, extend the definition of violence against women to include stalking, and provide training for civil and criminal court personnel to deal with families with a history of violence. It would also allow more battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would include same-sex couples in programs for domestic violence.
All that stuff after the first sentence extends the protections of the original act. So let’s just review the ways the GOP doesn’t like the content: it doesn’t punish immigrant women, it doesn’t punish same-sex couples, it extends protections to Native American and rural women, and it provides for legal assistance for poor victims – remember that legal aid to the poor has been the bane of the GOP since the days when their Saint Reagan tried and largely succeeded in gutting federal legal aid programs.
The GOPers are upfront about the immigrant and gay hate; otherwise they just wouldn’t be who they are. Nevertheless, in spite of their current fiscally feckless ways (just fact-check any GOP economic claim and you’ll know what I’m saying), they’ve got to pretend to be worried about “wasteful” spending:
Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expands immigration avenues by creating new definitions for immigrant victims to claim battery. More important, they say, it fails to put in safeguards to ensure that domestic violence grants are being well spent. It also dilutes the focus on domestic violence by expanding protections to new groups, like same-sex couples, they say.
Have there been problems with abuse of funds in the past? If so, perhaps some “safeguards” might be useful – as long as they don’t prove to be more costly to administer than the problem they supposedly fix. However, I bet that fixing this “problem” won’t fix GOP objections.
All in all, it sounds like the GOP I know all right. And it sounds like the intellectually and morally “flexible” Senator Blunt I have come to know over the past few years as well. Old Roy’s looking at all the angles, trying to figure out which way’s a winner, principles be damned. Speaking of the Democratic willingness to seize on the retrograde GOP behavior, Blunt wistfully muses:
Our friends on the other side are in serious danger of overplaying their hand on this one…
And nobody should know more about overplaying a hand than the sponsor of the eponymous Blunt-Rubio amendment.
* First sentence of 2nd to last paragraph edited slightly.