As numerous wingnut-led state legislatures pass anti-women bills, our national GOP has bigger fish to fry:
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.”
What is in this bill that is so offensive to Republicans? This:
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.
The horror of it all. Almost as depressing as the opposition from conservatives is that Democrats didn’t see it coming:
The third reauthorization effort of the legislation started off in November the way the previous efforts had, with a bipartisan bill and little controversy. The measure, authored by Senators Crapo and Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, attracted 58 co-sponsors, including Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Ms. Murkowski, Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois and Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts.
But Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, found multiple reasons to oppose the bill when it came up for a formal consideration last month.
The legislation “creates so many new programs for underserved populations that it risks losing the focus on helping victims, period,” Mr. Grassley said when the committee took up the measure. After his alternative version was voted down on party lines, the original passed without a Republican vote.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, one of two women on the judiciary panel, said the partisan opposition came as a “real surprise,” but she put it into a broader picture.
“This is part of a larger effort, candidly, to cut back on rights and services to women,” she said. “We’ve seen it go from discussions on Roe v. Wade, to partial birth abortion, to contraception, to preventive services for women. This seems to be one more thing.”
What the hell has Feinstein been doing the last four years? How on earth could this come as a surprise? How little attention must one pay to not see this coming?