Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison Leads Republicans In Calling For An "Alternative" Violence Against Women Act

Categories: Politics

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate began debating the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which is largely backed by Senate Democrats, and discussing its Republican alternative, authored by Chuck Grassley of Iowa and our own Kay Bailey Hutchison. In preparation for that debate, Hutchison took to the Senate floor Wednesday and did something rather extraordinary: She talked for ten minutes without once mentioning the three key things that Republicans would like to change about the proposed Democratic version of the bill, namely the gay parts, the immigrant parts and the American-Indian parts.

As has been widely reported in recent days, the Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994 and has generally been as noncontroversial and bipartisan as laws come. But this time around, Republicans have objected to the Democrat-backed version of the renewal bill, which would add more visas for immigrants -- legal and illegal -- who are victims of abuse, would explicitly state that gay, lesbian and transgendered people are protected by the act and would allow non-American Indians who commit domestic violence on tribal land to be prosecuted by tribal authorities.

Hutchison didn't mention any of that, though. Instead, she focused on the less controversial (and sorely needed) changes she's proposing: increasing support for sexual assault investigations and rape-kit testing. As we mentioned recently , there are thousands of untested rape kits in Dallas County and throughout Texas. But because law enforcement agencies still aren't complying with a law that requires them to report their totals, we still don't even know precisely how many there are, and actually testing them may still be years away.

Hutchison didn't outline the other provisions of the Republican version of the bill, which would put a cap on visas for immigrants at 10,000 a year, compared with the 15,000 the Democrats want. The Republican version also doesn't specify that violence against gays, lesbians and transgendered people is covered by the act. Instead of being able to prosecute domestic violence against against non-native people, tribal authorities would have to go to federal court for orders of protection.

But as the background material for the bill makes clear, that might not be good enough. Violence against tribal members by non-native people is a serious problem, but non-American Indians can't currently be prosecuted by tribal authorities and U.S. attorneys decline to prosecute a little more than half of violent crimes that happen in Indian country. In practice, that means non-tribal members have a disturbingly good chance of getting away with domestic violence.

Although the debate might get awkward, there's no real chance, even in this super-heated political climate, that something called the Violence Against Women Act won't be renewed. Among Hutchison's female colleagues, support for the Democratic bill is near-universal. As the Morning News reported, of the 17 women in the Senate, five of them Republicans, Hutchison was the only one to not sign on to the renewal.

But even as Hutchison dodged any discussion of the Republican alternative's more controversial proposals, she too called for the bill to be renewed. "We will go to conference on this bill," she said in her testimony. "And we will come out with a good bill, if everyone will cooperate."


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24 comments
mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

"But because law enforcement agencies still aren't complying with a law that requires them to report their totals, we still don't even know precisely how many there are"

Is this something you can force out with a sheaf of FOIA requests?

Guesty
Guesty

Why not call it the "Against Domestic Violence Act" since it obviously doesn't apply to just women?  Is it because of the War on Women?

Jim_parker
Jim_parker

As a white male conservative it kills me that you liberals think that I don't care about the well being of all people.  I do, and I want everyone to be healthy and happy, as do all other conservatives.  You guys are dead wrong.  The difference between us is this, if there are two people that need help, we just want to help those two.  You liberals want to spend money that we don't have to cover everyone, and then hope like hell that the two people that need help get caught in the net.  We both want the same thing.

Steve
Steve

Still would.

Paul
Paul

That is nice that Sen. Hutchinson is willing to provide federal funds for testing rape kits.

Shouldn't the outrage be focused on our City government for not providing the funding for testing rape kits?

I fail to see why funding for testing rape kits is a federal matter.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Honestly, we will miss Kay Bailey.  Even those of ideologically different stripes will come to respect her moderate (by GOP standards) service.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

KBH and the Repubs: Proving once again if your not white, straight or a natural born citizen you don't matter to them. 

cp
cp

So, how would propose that we make it where American Indians who are victims of domestic abuse get their days in court? 

Or, do you think that because a woman is gay that she shouldn't be included in the Violence Against WOMEN act when her partner beats the hell out of her? 

Or, you do think that all laws and Federal acts should just be done away with? 

Phelps
Phelps

Sad thing is, Jim, you care about them, but they don't care about you.

Mervis
Mervis

She'd tear you up man.

lorlee
lorlee

actually I think you need to direct your eyes towards the County which handles most Court stuff.  (and maybe even the State -- nah, they don't kick in for anything)

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

Yo Chris!  I'm all of the above and I dont matter to them...why do you hate white, straight Americans?

Phelps
Phelps

Chris Danger: Proving once again that the only thing that matters to a Democrat is the color of your skin, what your genitalia looks like, and what you choose to do with it.

Paul
Paul

 Well ... them too ...

Lunchroom Lady
Lunchroom Lady

Because when "American" comes last on your descriptors list, and "White" always get top billing, we think we know exactly what kind of citizen you are (the kind who thinks Old Dixie is just a flag).  If we're wrong, we apologize. 

jfpo
jfpo

You really are Baghdad Bob of UP. "Violence against women is not a problem." "Gays are never discriminated against." "There are no tribal people."

Damn librul conspiracies!

RTGolden
RTGolden

So, ..... is that exactly the type of citizen you think African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, etc are?  I believe TXdave was simply following the example set in the comment he was responding to.

Phelps
Phelps

Why are you calling Chris Danger a racist?

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

Your apology is accepted, however, you'd never have had to offer it if you'd taken a moment to think first. You have a great day now...

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

so, does that "standard" apply to Mr. Danger, as well? 

jfpo
jfpo

Yes, I held my nose an clicked the "like" button. But hey, when you're right, your right. Sometimes you and other conservatives here can make sense. It gives us libs a little bit of hope.

Phelps
Phelps

Note, dear reader, that this is coming from the guy who liked my comment yesterday about how I don't get why Republicans like Arpaio.

jfpo
jfpo

You calling anyone's arguments "chickenshit" is nothing short of hilarious. You come in here day after and defend just about anything the Republicans dole out simply because it's Republican. In this case, a longstanding bipartisan bill is being held up because white Republicans are upset over a possibility of an extra 5000 brown people entering the country legally.  And really, they oppose making it easier for Native American women access to legal protection?

I didn't phrase my "tribal people" comment very well, but I'll blame my poor iPhone keypad skills. I  have no idea if you hate women, gays or anybody else. But from your comments I can only assume you vote for those who do, making you part of the problem. But I already forgot: In your mind these aren't really problems.

Phelps
Phelps

In what way does focusing on getting the backlog of rape kits tested promote violence against women, discrimination against gays or... what, indigenous people denial?  (Not even sure wtf that was supposed to mean."

This really is a chicken-shit argument for you to make, anyways.  "Support my agenda or you hate women and gays!!!!11!!eleventy!!!.  

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