The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act reached a new low (or high, depending on your point of view) Tuesday, as Republicans in the House announced that they’d introduce a new, less far-reaching version of the Act already passed by the Senate, reports Talking Points Memo. Except this time, if the bill fails to pass, they’ll just vote on the version that made it through the Senate.
The difference between the two bills comes down to whether gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence would be clearly labeled as eligible for protection from domestic violence (the version passed by the Senate includes such language; the one proposed by House Republicans does not). It also specifically calls out acts that occur in Native American communities and cases involving illegal immigrants. TPM says:
“The big admission implicit in this latest move is that House GOP leaders don’t believe they have the votes to pass their version of the bill but that the Senate version is likely to pass the chamber. So this way they’ll give House conservatives the first bite at the apple as a way of saving face and still resolve an issue that has hurt them politically.”
A Democratic aide in the House also went as far to focus on Speaker of the House John Boehner for attempting “to appease the crazy wing of his party,” painting this forthcoming loss as yet another sign that party unity is not working anymore. As the New York Times reported in early 2012, the slow movement surrounding the reauthorization of this bill sits in sharp contrast to the many renewals the Violence Against Women Act received over the years since it was introduced in 1994.
There’s been a great deal of attention to the illegal immigration and gay rights aspects of this bill, but author Louise Erdich wrote in an op-ed focusing on the part of the act that would protect tribal women. “What seems like dry legislation can leave Native women at the mercy of their predators or provide a slim margin of hope for justice,” she wrote. “As a Cheyenne proverb goes, a nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.”