The Republican majority in the House is split. This reality was revealed today in a painfully obvious way when sane, moderate Republicans joined the Democratic minority to pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), while the Tea Party version failed to garner enough votes to be more than an embarrassing reminder of their extremism.
The Violence Against Women Act has been around since Vice President Joe Biden championed it in 1994. It’s supported by the public. Since the passage of the act, annual incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent.
The House Republican opposition to reauthorizing the VAWA was bad for their brand. It solidified the GOP as the party of legitimate rape and “shutting it down”. Their rewrites of the act only served to reveal their true agenda, which was to take away liberty from women while refusing to grant any protections to Native American women, undocumented immigrants and the LGBT community. To say the House Tea Party Republicans are out of step with mainstream America is putting it mildly.
Eric Cantor (R-VA) – ironically the House “Majority” Leader (that should read, “of the Tea Party”) – claimed the Republican version was all about making sure women are safe, but of course, that turned out to be false. For instance, their July 2012 version was quickly discredited as the liberty-stealing piece of patriarchal propaganda it was. Their latest version was true to tea form — anti women, anti undocumented workers, anti protecting people who are gay, anti protecting Native American women…. So, “making sure all women are safe” translated in policy to making sure as few women are protected as possible. GOP Freedom = Rich White Men Only.
Today, after 90 minutes of “debate”, the Republican version of the VAWA (also known as the pro violence against women act) died 166-257. (God bless America.)
Yet the bipartisan Senate version passed 286-138. Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “Glad to hear the House has passed the Senate’s version of #VAWA. It plays a vital role in combating domestic violence & sexual assault.”
How did the bipartisan Senate version get passed in the Republican majority House? (In case you’ve been in hiding for the past several years, anything that isn’t far right extremist doesn’t even get put up for a vote in Republican majority House, so this is a pretty significant accomplishment in these times.)
Good question, because this is the new reality facing the Republican Party, and it’s also why John Boehner struggles to be taken seriously as the Speaker of the House, as someone with the power to negotiate with the President. Boehner can’t deliver the votes, because the Republican Party is divided between the Tea crazy and the pro-corporate, pro-rich, but not crazy side of the party. And it seems the not so crazy side didn’t like what 2012 portended for their party.
The not-so-crazy side knows they can’t win elections by hating on women, undocumented workers, brown skinned people and gays. Sure, they can get out the vote via fear-mongering over those very same people, but they can’t win a national election.
And so, 87 Republicans voted with all 199 Democrats for the Senate version of the VAWA.
Those 87 Republicans refused to put women in more jeopardy just to satisfy the anti-woman agenda of the Tea Party caucus. If those 87 Republicans can find the courage to take a stand for average Americans on other issues (American Jobs Act, anyone?), they just might help to save this country from the tea party, debt-ceiling hostage taking side of the party.
I’m not holding my breath. After all, CPAC looks like the usual clown show and Boehner refuses to put most bills up for a vote for precisely this reason — it might pass with Democrats and a few Republicans, thereby effectively erasing the Republican majority. But still, 87 House Republicans were willing to vote with Democrats on something that was bipartisan and should never have been held up this long in the first place. Sad to say, but this is a vast improvement over the last two years.