Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Monday accused Democrats of trying to use the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act as a political weapon against Republicans.
“Since it became law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has helped millions of victims break free from the terrible cycle of domestic violence – including hundreds of thousands of victims here in Texas – and it has always enjoyed broad bipartisan support,” he wrote in the Houston Chronicle. “Yet some folks are now trying to use VAWA as a partisan football to score cheap political points and raise campaign funds.”
The VAWA, originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized twice since, provides funding to local communities to improve their response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The federal grants from the law support law enforcement training, victim services, transitional housing, and legal assistance.
Republicans oppose the current reauthorization bill because it would allow battered undocumented immigrants to claim temporary visas, and expand protections to same sex couples and Native American tribes.
All eight Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against renewing the law and Democrats were quick to denounce them, linking their opposition to the bill to the so-called “war on women.”
“The law was enacted to protect and serve the interests of crime victims, not to help a political party fire up its base,” Cornyn continue. “Moreover, to argue that a minor policy disagreement indicates a lack of sensitivity toward battered women is simply beyond the pale.”
He said the current reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act had no change of being passed by Congress, which is why he introduced an alternative bill.
The Justice for Victims Amendment would “increase the funds available to reduce the rape-kit backlog; create a national sexual-assault forensics registry to help with audits of untested evidence; strengthen penalties for domestic violence, sexual abuse and child-sex trafficking; make it easier for the U.S. Marshals Service to track down and apprehend fugitive sex offenders; and urge the website BackPage.com to eliminate its ‘adult entertainment’ section, which has been used to facilitate child prostitution,” Cornyn explained.