Below are recent comments made by or directed to Congressional Republicans who have blocked progress on important legislative priorities including the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act despite broad bipartisan support. Interestingly one of those, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), pointed out at an event in her home state that insensitive comments made by her colleagues in the GOP underscore the need for Congress to swiftly pass a comprehensive VAWA bill. Her comments, and those from others, are below.
· More than 100 advocates in Kentucky, the home state of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), gathered in Lexington over the recess to call on Congress to support equal pay for women and to pass VAWA. (story from ABC affiliate, August 26, 2012)
"I think a lot of young women should pay attention to the issues because each election people get elected who will impose rules on women who will affect their lives in different ways," former Lexington Mayor Theresa Isaac.
· In a Seattle Times profile Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman in House GOP leadership, calls VAWA and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act "a distraction." (Seattle Times, August 25, 2012)
McMorris Rodgers said women are more concerned about jobs, the economy and federal spending — areas where she contends Democrats have failed voters.
"These (other) issues really have been a distraction," she said.
· Senator Chuck Grassley also complained that focusing on VAWA and equal pay for women was a distraction from the economy.
"And then later on we had the equal wages for women legislation that came up for about a week, and everybody knew that that wasn't going to go anyplace. But it was a debate in this assembly, taking up a time on a lot of important issues that ought to be used with the economy and creating jobs, and we spent a week on that." (Senate floor remarks, Wednesday, August 1, 2012)
· There is one Republican who seems to get it. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), who has repeatedly called for the House to take up the Senate-passed VAWA bill, said Rep. Tom Akin's comments underscore the need to raise public awareness about violence against women.
"We all know that oftentimes rape does lead to pregnancy," Biggert said. "For this, and many other reasons, the service that you provide to victims of rape and sexual assault are critical, as is a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own body. Frankly, I don't believe Mr. Akin's views are shared by any member of Congress. But I hope his comments can be used by the sexual assault community to reclaim and further your mission to increase public awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and rape." (Remarks at Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, reported by the Daily Herald, August 24, 20112)