Violence Against Women Act Renewal & CMR
Dear Group, On McMorris Rodgers' congress.gov website you can read about her pride in "...Secur[ing] the Violence Against Women Act Extension" in an article posted on September 16, 2018. She casts herself as a “...warrior for human dignity and human value..." and writes of the VAWA as "...critical legislation to provide resources, support, and justice for victims of harassment and assault." The VAWA authorization expired again February 15 this year. It is peculiar that on April 4 McMorris Rodgers voted against the new reauthorization bill, H.R.1585. H.R. 1585 passed the House 263-158. McMorris Rodgers joined 156 other Republicans and one Democrat voting against, while 33 Republicans voted for the bill, including CMR's protege, Jamie Herrera Beutler (SW WA, CD3). The bill advanced to the Senate (where it faces an uncertain future). The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) became law in 1994 with bipartisan support (House 235–195, Senate 61–38). According to Wikipedia (a great background article): "The Act provided $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave un-prosecuted. The Act also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice." The next year Republican tried to slash its funding, supposedly on fiscal grounds. So why McMorris Rodgers' change of heart? I called her Spokane office on Tuesday April 9 to inquire. It was clear the staffer had been asked before. She quickly responded, "She voted against because the Democrats changed it. It became a 'partisan' bill." What did she see as a partisan poison pill? Was it guns, money, something else? National coverage of the vote suggested the major quandary for Republicans was the closing of the "boyfriend loophole" in the H.R. 1595. Under the existing law a convicted abuser who was only a boyfriend did not forfeit his gun rights, whereas a convicted abuser husband would lose his. [See below in the P.S. a quote from Doug Muder for more detail.] McMorris Rodgers might find that objection to the bill hard to defend to anyone not a gun rights nut, although I imagine she is quietly advertising this reason to the rabid parts of her base. I did not expect a fiscal argument. Exploding the deficit by voting in and crowing about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act certainly would put her thin ice cutting a program on fiscal grounds she had said was "critical legislation to provide resources." When I asked for more specifics the staffer went on to say McMorris Rodgers objected to a clause in H.R. 1585 that would "allow biologically male transgender individuals who identify as female into women's shelters." McMorris Rodgers, the staffer said, wanted to "protect the women in these shelters." This is a characterization of biologically male transgender individuals as predators. It excludes them from consideration as victims of domestic violence (the VAWA itself does not exclude men from such consideration.) This is McMorris Rodgers' shelter version of an anti-transgender bathroom bill. I am not a lawyer, but neither is McMorris Rodgers. Anyone can read the text of the entire reauthorization bill here. I word searched the text for the term "transgender" using CMD-F (a very useful tool). The word transgender appears seven times. Only once [Section 4051(b)(2)(B)] the term appears in a clause concerning placement of transgender individuals. In that instance the clause pertains only to prison placement, and in that setting the bill mandates consideration "on a case-by-case basis whether a placement would ensure the prisoner’s health and safety." I submit that McMorris Rodgers' stated reason for voting nay on VAWA reauthorization is governed by her partisan Republican political handlers, not by any critical reading of the actual text of the bill. They may be struggling with their justification: as of today they are two weeks behind in posting their "How I Voted" page on CMR's website, something I was told by her staffer I would see up by yesterday, Wednesday, April 10. I encourage you to call McMorris Rodgers' office and ask for the details of her justification for her nay vote: Spokane Office (509) 353-2374 Colville Office (509) 684-3481 Walla Walla Office (509) 529-9358 D.C. Office (202) 225-2006 She may be in area during next week's recess. If she holds a snap town hall in some outlying village this would be a good question in that setting as well. Keep to the high ground, Jerry P.S. Below I've copied Doug Muder's sober analysis of the typical Republican justification for voting against reauthorization of the VAWA: "The next time somebody tries to tell you that both parties are the same, remember Thursday's [April 4] vote in the House to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act [H.R.1585]. It passed 263-158. The No votes were 157 Republicans and 1 Democrat. The bill faces challenges in the Republican-controlled Senate. Here's the main point of contention: Under current federal law, only people convicted of domestic violence offenses against spouses or family members can lose their gun rights. The [new version of the] VAWA would add people convicted of abusing their dating partners, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” It would also prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses from owning or buying firearms, as well as abusers subject to temporary protective orders. That provision is too much for the NRA, and so for the Republicans the NRA controls. The gun rights of stalkers and abusers should be protected, even if that means more women will die. A study comparing abused women who survived with those killed by their abuser found that 51 percent of women who were killed had a gun in the house. By contrast, only 16 percent of women who survived lived in homes with guns. Even if you don't care about women, there's still good reason to support adding this provision to the VAWA: When you look at mass shooters and ask "How could we have known what he would do?", one strong clue is a history of domestic violence. Keeping guns out of the hands of abusers would probably save a lot of men's lives too."