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February 25, 2013
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other Republicans have released an unacceptable version (PDF) of the Violence Against Women Act that omits many important provisions that are in the Senate-passed bill (S. 47) and even scales back current law.
In keeping with the new stealth strategy the Republican Party is following -- since voters rejected their overtly anti-woman policies in the 2012 elections -- the bill is deceptively numbered S. 47. The House version is not the Senate bill but a wholesale "substitute amendment" carried by House Republican Conference Co-Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). Their hope is not only that House members will be confused about the legislation, but also that if their substitute bill called S. 47 is approved, the Senate could be forced to negotiate over this bad bill.
The vote on the McMorris Rodgers bill is scheduled as early as Wednesday, Feb.27, so we need you to call your House member immediately. Urge your representative to oppose the McMorris Rodgers bill and support only the Senate bipartisan, inclusive bill. Make them aware of the fact that while the Republican leadership's bill is numbered S. 47 -- that is NOT the bill we support. You can tell your House member that NOW will score their vote on this legislation. That means we will work to defeat any legislator who votes for it.
The GOP bill is both homophobic and racist. It drops LGBT protections that are in the Senate-passed bill and greatly modifies provisions aimed at helping Native American victims of violence by allowing defendants to move their cases from a tribal court to a federal court if they feel that their constitutional rights are not being upheld. This is an effort to give non-Native American perpetrators of violence a potentially more favorable hearing in court, NOW believes.
Other problems with the 288-page legislation are being analyzed at the moment, but we must get our messages sent to House members. Even if your member of Congress already supports the Senate-passed VAWA, call anyway and urge them to speak with their colleagues and their party leadership to oppose the GOP version of VAWA.
We have the votes in the House to pass the inclusive, bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (S. 47) that passed the Senate by a whopping 78 to 22 vote margin. Add it up: 201 sponsors of the House version of the Senate bill; 19 representatives who have asked the House Republican leaders to pass a bipartisan bill that "reaches all victims…"; 8 Republican sponsors of a bill (H.R. 780) that closely mirrors the tribal jurisdiction section of the Senate-passed bill; dozens more Republicans who support some or all of the Senate provisions; and 1,300 local, state and national organizations that have signed a letter to the House to pass S. 47.
We must defeat the bogus House bill. Please call your House member. The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121 and you can also go to the representative's webpage and enter your comments.
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