Why the Violence Against Women Act Divided the House G.O.P.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) holds a news conference with fellow GOP House members who want to negotiate new payroll tax cut legislation. John Boehner speaks to the press. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

After months of stalling on Capitol Hill the House has passed the Violence Against Women Act. President Obama has said he will sign it. 

This could have been a done deal way back in the last legislative session. The Senate had passed its version back in May, but the House moved to draft its own bill that stripped out the Senate version's protections for gay, immigrant, Native American, and student victims.  

This week members of the GOP realized that version was unlikely to pass. That was in part because members of their own party supported those provisions present in the Senate version.

Yesterday, 87 House G.O.P. members joined 199 Democrats to support of the Senate version of the bill. Nineteen House members even went as far as to send a letter for Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker John Boehner calling for passage of the more comprehensive version. It's the third time in a matter of months that the House has passed a bill with the Democratic minority pushing the balance of the vote under John Boehner's watch.

Tom Cole is a Republican Congressman representing Oklahoma's 4th district. Cole is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. He voted in favor of the Senate version of the bill.

Congressman Cole believes that Congress managed to find common ground on issues that would normally be very divisive, something it has proven generally inept at over the last few years: "We let the House work its will. And it actually worked pretty well and dealt with the issue fairly expeditiously in a divided environment."

He believes that Speaker Boehner operated appropriately in a difficult situation: "He understands politics about as well anybody I’ve ever met and I’ve worked with him for over 20 years… This was a very, very difficult issue because there were divisions within his own conference that prevented him from getting to 218."

On the impact of the legislation in tribal areas, he says: "It will make a dramatic difference."


Congressman Tom Cole

Comments [1]


That any member of Congress voted for this act is repugnant. No civil rights proponent should ever support a bill that puts one group above another. As a female police officer I saw that women can be equally violent. Spousal violence against men is very under reported. Men do not want the mothers of their children to be hauled off in handcuffs, it would be viewed as unmanly. Then their was a ruckus about covering lesbian women. What about gay men- is it okay for their partners to beat them? Everything about this bill is wrong. Equal treatment by the law is supposed to be one of the tenants of the justice system. I know that does not always work out, but can we at least start with a level playing field. Women want to be treated as equals in all other areas. How do we say women can go into combat, but at home are so wimpy they require a special law.

Mar. 01 2013 08:30 AM

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