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Dems Demand Violence Against Women Act

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Politicians are once again at loggerheads over funding. This time the funding is for the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation would extend grant programs to law enforcement and shelters for battered women, expanding free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence. It would also allow more abused illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas, and would extend programs to same-sex couples, two aspects that Republicans object to.  Those in congress and the people that elected them, want us to believe that funding is at issue. Tax dollars spent on programs that would allow gay men and women, and illegal immigrants access to services and care they will need as victims of abuse.  However, what seems to be more at play is a political ideology that seeks to divide us rather than unite us.

Breaking the cycle of abuse requires a system that is better funded, better equipped, and focused on stopping abuse and not stopping  victims – all victims from getting the help they need. Where do you come down on the issue before congress?

Women Figure Anew in Senate’s Latest Battle

By Published: March 14, 2012

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times“We’re mad, and we’re tired of it,” said Senator Maria Cantwell.

WASHINGTON — With emotions still raw from the fight over President Obama’s contraception mandate, Senate Democrats are beginning a push to renew the Violence Against Women Act, the once broadly bipartisan 1994 legislation that now faces fierce opposition from conservatives.

The fight over the law, which would expand financing for and broaden the reach of domestic violence programs, will be joined Thursday when Senate Democratic women plan to march to the Senate floor to demand quick action on its extension. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has suggested he will push for a vote by the end of March.

Democrats, confident they have the political upper hand with women, insist that Republican opposition falls into a larger picture of insensitivity toward women that has progressed from abortion fights to contraception to preventive health care coverage — and now to domestic violence.

“I am furious,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington. “We’re mad, and we’re tired of it.”

Republicans are bracing for a battle where substantive arguments could be swamped by political optics and the intensity of the clash over women’s issues. At a closed-door Senate Republican lunch on Tuesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska sternly warned her colleagues that the party was at risk of being successfully painted as antiwoman — with potentially grievous political consequences in the fall, several Republican senators said Wednesday.

Some conservatives are feeling trapped.

“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 expands immigration 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.”

Read Entire Story Here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/us/politics/violence-against-women-act-divides-senate.html?_r=1

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