“I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who opposed the latest version last month in the Judiciary Committee. “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”
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.
Republicans say the measure, under the cloak of battered women, unnecessarily expandsimmigration 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.
Critics of the legislation acknowledged that the name alone presents a challenge if they intend to oppose it over some of its specific provisions.
“Obviously, you want to be for the title,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership, said of the Violence Against Women Act. “If Republicans can’t be for it, we need to have a very convincing alternative.”
This is why laws should never, ever, ever be named after victims. No substantive debate on the merits could be had without being seen as anti-woman (or pro-violence).
Are you in favor of violence against women? I guess the Supreme Court was in Lopez!
Update: Attorney General Holder can’t understand why anyone would oppose a law that involves protecting women from violence!
Attorney General Eric Holder today called it “inconceivable” that Congress has not yet reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. “For the life of me, I cannot begin to understand why this is something that is a debate within Congress,” he said, “It is inconceivable to me now that we are in the process of a debate about something that has proven so effective and is clearly so needed for the future. It must be passed, and it must be passed soon,” Holder said.
Senator Grassley noted that a fillibuster is not necessary, and that he does not oppose the provisions that prevent violence against women–it’s just other stuff he has a problem with (though the name of the bill is not so broad).
“Violence against women except for these additions is noncontroversial. I’m afraid what they’re doing here is they want a political issue — you know, ‘war on women’ — and they are going to end up with another one-year extension.”