The Violence Against Women Act won final legislative approval today, but not because of the votes of Texas congressional delegation.
While all 12 Texas Democratic House members favored the bill, which won by a comfortable margin of 286 to 138, only two Texas House Republicans joined the majority. They were
Texas cast more votes against the Violence Against Women Act than any other state. Texas Republicans also were far more likely than GOP lawmakers from other states to oppose the measure. While about two in five non-Texas Republicans favored the Violence Against Women Act, under 10 percent of the Texas GOP delegation cast “yes” votes.
The legislation now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
The bill endured heated debate and died last year after much Republican criticism of the legislation’s expansion of federal protection to lesbians, gays and transgender people, Native Americans and non-citizen immigrants.
“Congress got something right today,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. “I was proud to vote for the Violence Against Women Act — which was inexcusably stalled by the previous Congress.”
This afternoon, Poe released a statement lauding the measure’s final passage. The Violence Against Women act contained the SAFER Act, a piece of legislation
“No one should be denied justice because of a bureaucratic backlog,” said
Farenthold saw his vote as “a moral obligation.”
“As a husband and father of two daughters, I feel a moral obligation to stand up for the 1.3 million women who fall victim to domestic violence every year,” he said. “Through the reauthorization of this bill, domestic violence victims will have what they need to escape their abuser, protect their families, and rebuild a better life. Though the Senate bill is not perfect, we can’t wait to reauthorize this critical legislation. This issue is as important today as it was nearly 20 years ago when the first VAWA was passed.”
Texas Sen. John Cornyn proposed the SAFER Act in the Senate and looked on the bright side, praising its passage, despite his own vote against the Violence against Women Act in the Senate.
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, who was among the 20 Texas Republicans in opposition, said though the bill is “wrapped up in good intentions and a feel-good name” there shouldn’t be an expansion of federal control over states.
“Good intentions do not always lead to well-written, effective law,” he said in a statement, adding that states should pass laws tougher prison sentences on abusers and allow women to carry guns.
After the vote, national Democrats focused their ire on freshman Rep. Randy Weber of Pearland, who defeated former Rep. Nick Lampson last November. Weber is the only incumbent Texas Republican now considered vulnerable to a potential Democratic challenger in 2014.
“Congressman Weber abandoned women today by joining with the Tea Party to try to defeat the Violence Against Women Act,” said Emily Bittner of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “There can be no question: Congressman Weber and his Tea Party friends are more focused on a radical ideology than on what’s good for women and families.”
The Senate voted 78-22 in favor of the bill earlier this month. Both Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Cornyn voted ‘no’. Cornyn attributed his vote to a provision in the law that he deemed unconstitutional.