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Dems, GOP Draw Battle Lines After House Rejects Violence Against Women Act

PA’s Democratic candidates for the U.S. House accused Republican incumbents of waging war on women after the GOP-led House approved a version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that removed certain provisions from the Senate’s version of the law.

All but two PA Republicans voted along party lines on the legislation.

Originally passed in 1994, the act has received bipartisan support throughout its history, and has been reauthorized twice since. Although Democrats and Republicans support reauthorization, recent debate erupted over the scope of the law’s protections.

In April, the Democrat-controlled Senate approved their version of the act that included the protection of Native Americans, undocumented immigrants and lesbian, gay and transsexual individuals as well as those already included under the law in the case of domestic abuse.

Upon receiving the Senate’s version, members of the House rejected its reauthorization 222-205, and proposed their own.

Critics of this version say the language in it doesn’t provide protection for LGBT victims of domestic abuse.

In light of the criticisms by Democrats, Republicans have emphasized their support of the act, saying they have actively worked to reauthorize the bill, and their approval of the House version indicates this.

For many Democrats on the campaign trail, the House version presents another opportunity to attack Republican incumbents for being weak on women’s rights.

In the race for PA-6, Democratic nominee Manan Trivedi said incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach’s  (R-Chester) vote has shown that he doesn’t support victims of domestic violence.

“Women’s issues continue to be used as a political football for Jim Gerlach and this Republican Congress,” said Trivedi.

“If there were ever a time to stand up against your party and do the right thing, it should be to protect these women during the most traumatic experience of their lives.”

Gerlach shrugged off Trivedi’s  accusations, saying that both plans dedicated $660 million toward fighting domestic violence in the country.

“The only war being waged is a political war made up by desperate Democrat candidates who simply take talking points from the Democratic Campaign Committee, slap them on their own press release, and send them out,” Gerlach said.

Similarly, in the race for PA-18, Democratic nominee Larry Maggi accused incumbent Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny)of caving in to “partisan politics” by voting against the reauthorization of the Senate’s bill.

Susan Mosychuk, Murphy’s chief of staff, said in an email that Maggi’s campaign “got their facts wrong” during their attacks by failing to see the rationale behind the changes made in the House’s version of the act.

“This bill tightens confidentiality protections and combats fraud by undocumented immigrants,” Mosychuk said. “Tim has dedicated his life to helping families in crisis, victims of violence, and abused children.”

Rep. Joe Pitts’ challenger, Aryanna Strader, similarly criticized the Chester County Republican.

Democratic Super PACs, which have largely fallen behind their Republican counterparts in terms of fundraising, have begun using the reauthorization debate as a rallying cry for key bundlers.

Credo Super PAC, a political action group based in San Francisco, denounced Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) through their “Women Against Fitzpatrick” Committee, calling Fitzpatrick “a leader in the Republican war on women.”

Mike Eagle, district director for Credo’s “Take Down Fitzpatrick” Campaign, said in an email that Fitzpatrick and the Tea Party have threatened to remove a law that has helped victims of domestic abuse for over a decade.

“They’ve taken a law that, for over a decade, has helped protect vulnerable women and children, and turned it into a weapon in their war on women by removing domestic abuse protections for millions of women across the country,” Eagle said.

Faith Bender, Fitzpatrick’s campaign spokesperson, said in an email that Fitzpatrick’s vote to reauthorize the act shows his support for women.

“Voting yes on the Violence Against Women Act sent a clear signal that protecting women is a priority, and affirms his belief that both the House and Senate must move quickly to reconcile differences in language to ensure the critical programs in VAWA are funded,” Bender said.

Although voting on the issue mainly followed party lines, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Delaware) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-York) joined 23 other Republicans nationally to vote down the issue. Meehan said his point of contention with the House’s proposal resided in its inability to address domestic violence on college campuses.

The Senate proposal required that colleges issue reports on incidents of date rape, domestic violence and stalking, and then put policy in place to prevent these crimes. The House removed these provisions from their final proposal.

Meehan said his time in law enforcement exposed him to the issue of violence against women on college campuses, influencing his vote.

“From my years as a district attorney who prosecuted abusers, I know firsthand how important it is to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act,” Meehan said. “But this bill missed a critical opportunity to strengthen protections for women on campus.”

Platt’s campaign didn’t release a statement offering rationalization behind the representative’s vote, but it is consistent with his moderate voting record on LGBT issues.

18 Responses

  1. Someone has to tell me how Transvestites fall into the “Women” category in Violence Against Women.

    Sounds like the GOP wants the Violence Against Women Act to protect, let’s see, women maybe?

    After all, they basically voted to reauthorize the Act the way it had been the last two times and not the political version done this year to drive a vote.

    I guess if I dress up as a Native American, I can get all the preferences for college, etc. they get? After all, dressing up as a woman now seems all you need to do to qualify for that category…

    This is all silly. The Dems added new things that had nothing to do with anything but their liberal constituency (LBGT special interests) and the GOP said, “No” let’s keep the law the way it has been (working).

  2. I can’t believe Boehner got that many conservatives to spend $650 million on this feel good nonsense.

  3. @Kathleen: Xenophobia is no excuse for not taking action against human rights abuses. Domestic violence IS a human rights abuse. Do you know how many women silently endure abuse because they’re afraid of being thrown out of the country and forced to be alone if they seek help? Please explain your reasoning here, if this is what you think.

  4. Saul must be trolling too if he see’s other people doing it. One shouldn’t throw stones who live in glass houses, now should he. Your spit just got thrown back in your face. LOL to you! Republicans are so stupid!

  5. Judges who sabatage the laws’ effectiveness releasing abusiers who then re-double their violence, often murdering those victims, are a bigger problem. Custody is too often handed to the predator parent by judges with grudges against women. It’s not a fight worthy of this much energy and animosity. Join the Majority United and find a better way.

  6. @Saul It’s okay to be a skeptic of ghost hunting as I once was until things started happening to me I couldn’t explain in my home. I wasn’t a coward and fearful to join a group with my same interest to find out what happens to us when we die. People can believe what they hear from others, read, or what seems logical in their mind that was taught to them. I searched for the truth to find my own answers and peace of mind by actually experiencing it and able to provide the evidence for myself. My experience has made me more spiritual than attending church while enjoying life and gods nature. You have to physically do it, not watch a TV show set up for the media.

    I’m not a person to be ignorant of things and say things to others without exploring the said subject.


    Let me see why I’m in a rage along with other women by displaying a few facts on how Fitz has NOT helped women: Redefined her rape, no equal pay, watered down violence protection that protects her abuser, against birth control excluding women the right to choose if she wants children or not, and when she is ready to do so, the abuse of a forced baby from a forced rape of a stranger, father or other family close blood creating severe genetic deformities, and why the laws of who you can marry were established for genetic defects is another reason for abortion. I guess laws were made to be broken. You can’t marry your brother, but you can now have his forced raped baby.

    The list of rape and abortion restrictions regarding
    a woman’s medical and mental health goes on.

    I call it abusive and slavery of an immoral act of a woman’s right and her freedom. Freedom to choose her life goals and dreams.


  8. Good, Tea Party men don’t like me being involved with American Women United, Women Against Fitzpatrick, and PA Working Families against republicans. Tea Party getting nervous?

    I’m Ready to abolish the rights of male conservative sexism, racism, and stop the war of tea party obstruction to our POTUS and our Country.

  9. Saul – The same way you troll Facebook. Your an idiot. Too bad if you don’t like me fighting for women’s right. What are you afraid of? You will be reading more of me you little twit, by exposing your trashy party of deceit, lies, obstruction, destruction and dictatorship. It’s people like you and your little party has made me stand up to campaign against all the wrong doing to our Country.

    I will haunt your party of political facts! LMAO!!!

  10. The majority of legislation, with VAWA included, is nothing more than veiled attempts to provide additional venues geared towards allowing illegal aliens to remain in this country. Those who denounce elected officials who reject these inclusions insult the intelligence of those of us who take the time to read these bills.

  11. Fitzpatrick has helped more women than the CREDO agitators ever have in their entire existence. CREDO is simply a bunch of chronic complainers who have no sense of reality.

  12. The Republican party has been hijacked by an extremist fringe which does not recognize how important it is to defend basic human rights. They have by and large lost the will to vote with their consciences and have become puppets of the party leadership and the interests of the rich backers who don’t have to worry about the things most Americans worry about every day. It’s time to stand up to this kind of politicking before it goes any further, it’s time to tell all politicians that womens’ rights matter to the American people.

  13. I am the only Congressional candidate in the 16th district running against Joe Pitts with coherent well-defined positions on women’s rights as well as equal rights for the LGBT community but as an independent candidate my position on the issues are seldom sought. Nevertheless, if you would like to see how a real candidate approaches these issues please see:
    Feel free to leave a comment on our comment page:

    For Justice,
    John Murphy

  14. Speak to the issue? The same way you troll facebook postings and post whatever you want?

  15. Frequent commentators you disagree with have as much validity as those you agree with. Speak to the issue. Knocking a commentator is a distraction.

  16. Credo’s “press release” used Cheryl Anne, a frequent commentor here and avid ghost hunter to denounce Fitzpatrick’s vote.

    If he voted against the bill like Meehan she would say the same BS. Her opinion is as credible as all the TV ghost hunter’s claims.

  17. How Republicans can claim that their vote for this bill was a vote to “protect women” is utterly irresponsible and puts the safety of millions of women at risk. Mike Fitzpatrick should be ashamed of himself. How he could continue to shame his district is beyond me.

  18. wow he has really out done himself this time. its absolutely ridiculous that you’d take away basic protections from people that you just don’t lik

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