Violence Against Women Act finally reauthorized

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The media's favorite story line is that Washington, D.C. is dysfunctional and broken and can't get anything done. But the media villagers rarely ever tell you why that is. The reason is the GOP leadership who employ the extra-constitutional "Hastert Rule" (a majority of the majority) in the House, and the extra-constitutional "Cloture Rule" (filibuster) in the Senate. When the GOP leadership waives their abuse of these procedural rules and members are permitted to vote their conscience the way that the Founders intended, work actually does get done in Congress.

Case in point: the TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, for the third time this year waived the "Hastert Rule" at the request of 18 House Republican members to allow an up or down vote on renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA had already passed the Senate on a strongly bipartisan 78 to 22 vote earlier this month.

Today, the VAWA was finally reauthorized. Violence Against Women Act passed by House, sent to Obama for signature – The Washington Post:

The Republican-held U.S. House signed off on a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that includes expanded protections for same-sex couples Thursday, ending a protracted political fight over the measure and sending the bill to President Obama to sign into law.

Obama said he will sign the bill as soon as he gets it. “Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear,” he said in a statement.

The measure, which was already approved by the Senate, passed the House on a 286 to 138 vote, as 199 Democrats joined 87 Republicans to push the bill over opposition from a bloc of 138 conservatives, who opposed the bill for a number of reasons, including the new protections for gays and lesbians.

[Rep. Eric Cantor’s Tea-Publican proposal was defeated on a 166 to 257 vote Thursday, tumbling under the combined opposition of unified Democrats and a bloc of Republicans, some of whom were allies of Native Americans who believed it did not adequately acknowledge sovereignty of Indian tribes.]

More Republicans voted against the bill than supported it — the third time since December that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has allowed legislation to move off the floor that did not have the support of a majority [Hastert Rule] of his divided members.

In this case, the outcome stemmed from a broad desire from GOP leaders to get past the Violence Against Women Act issue. It was an acknowledgment that their continued opposition to a measure that had passed with broad bipartisan support in the Senate and has strong appeal with women voters was damaging the party’s image.

Hailed as landmark legislation when it was first passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act authorizes funding for programs across the country that help in the prosecution of sexual assault and domestic abuse, and assists victims of the crimes.

Those include battered women’s shelters, victims advocates, rape-prevention education and other programs.

* * *

[There are] new provisions in the legislation that expanded its reach, including new provisions barring discrimination against gays and lesbians in programs funded by the bill.

The measure also expands the authority of tribal courts to prosecute nonnative American men who are accused of crimes on Indian reservations, an expansion of the law’s reach intended to help address particularly pernicious problems of abuse on reservations.

* * *

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the episode was a sign House Republican leaders need Democrats to get bills approved.

“If we have to supply the votes, we should be helping to write the bills,” she said at a news conference surrounded by female Democrats.

* * *

“There is absolutely no reason that it should have taken this long for the House leadership to come around on a bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a leading advocate for the bill. “But passage today is a validation of what we’ve been saying since this bill expired in 2011 — VAWA has never been, and should never be, a partisan bill.”

Murray applauded “moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill.”

If you want a functional government in Washington, D.C., the answer is simple: throw the Tea Party conservatives under the bus, and then vote them out of office.

As Vice President Joe Biden, the author of the original Violence Against Women Act and the point man for renewal of the VAWA would say, "This is a big effin' deal!"