Here's Why Neither Texas Senator Voted for the Violence Against Women Act

Categories: Politics

ted cruz.jpg
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It now heads to the House for what will likely be an ugly battle over its renewal; President Obama used part of his State of the Union address last night to urge the House representatives to pass it.

The VAWA's been passed twice before since being written by now-VP Joe Biden in 1994. Among other things, it provides money for investigating and prosecuting violent crimes against women and created the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice, which in turn funds dozens of other programs. It's sort of indisputably a good thing, and has historically always passed with bipartisan support.

Not this year. Twenty-two senators voted against it, all of them male and all of them Republican. And both of your Texas senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, appear on that list.

It's not too surprising that some Republican lawmakers chose to vote against the bill, which they've been fighting since last year. Former Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison even led the call back in April for an "alternative" Violence Against Women Act, co-sponsored by Cornyn and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

At the time, that Republican trio focused on the fact that their proposed version of the bill would have increased federal funding for the testing backlogged rape-kits -- there are 20,000 of them in Texas alone, and it's probably going to cost the state millions to test them all.

In speaking publicly about the bill, Hutchison and Cornyn very studiously did not mention the other things that Republicans don't like about the new VAWA, namely all the stuff about protecting gays, Native Americans and immigrants. A proposal to explicitly cover LGBT victims of domestic violence in the act passed, as did a provision that will allow tribal courts to prosecute non-native people for violent crimes. The bill also includes some expanded coverage for immigrant victims of domestic violence, regardless of their legal status, although a previous proposal to increase the number of visas Homeland Security can issue to those victims ultimately failed.

So, no surprise that Cornyn and Cruz both chose not to support the Senate's final version of the bill. What's really interesting, though, is how each man justified his "no" vote. Or, in Cruz's case, didn't really bother to justify it much at all.

Cornyn seems genuinely concerned with getting some version of the VAWA renewed. He's said before that the bill is "critical" and called untested rape kits "a scandal." His main sticking point is the provision that allows non-Native Americans to be tried in tribal courts, which he's called "unconstitutional" and "bowing to special interests."

Cornyn's is a noxious argument. As it stands now, non-natives who commit violence against Native Americans on tribal land cannot be touched by tribal law. The New York Times has a heartbreaking story about Diane Millich, a Ute woman who was viciously beaten by her white husband for years. Tribal authorities couldn't touch him, and she appealed to federal law enforcement with no result. Fortunately, Millich worked in a federal office, the Bureau of Land Management. After her husband stormed that office and opened fire on her and her colleagues, law enforcement finally saw fit to step in.

Cornyn is arguing that women like Diane Millich are a "special interest group," rather than American citizens who deserve full and equal protection under the law. He also wrote an op-ed last year attacking the Democrats for "exploiting" the VAWA "for political gain," presumably by trying to protect gay people. Cornyn is no fan of the gays, at one point infamously comparing gay marriage to "the union of a man and [a] box turtle."

But at least Cornyn genuinely seems to care about protecting some victims of domestic violence -- the non-gay, non-Indian ones, anyway. Compare Cornyn's long public battle to pass his version of the VAWA with Ted Cruz. Cruz, displaying that trademark Tea Party dickishness we've all come to enjoy, voted against the bill and then issued a cursory one paragraph statement defending his vote.

In his statement, Cruz's office calls him tough on crime, especially "sexual predators who target women and children."

"Nevertheless," the statement goes on, "he voted against this federal law because stopping and punishing violent criminals is primarily a state responsibility, and the federal government does not need to be dictating state criminal law."

That's it. Cruz reduces a complicated and painful public battle over domestic violence to a state's rights issue, then moves right along. He doesn't even seem to understand what the VAWA was about, conflating domestic abuse with "sexual predators."

Cornyn has promised to try to help "fix" the VAWA as it heads to the House. Cruz, meanwhile, was busy appearing on Sean Hannity to sputter about the State of the Union.

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78 comments
Joanne Welch
Joanne Welch

Remember it? Most Texans applaud it. This is a scary fucking state we live in.

Mercy Trowbridge
Mercy Trowbridge

You get what you paid for. Texans voted these people into office. I miss Ann Richards.

Joe Downey
Joe Downey

Stuart I lived near Dallas for Five years NO CARING OR COMPASSIONATES there worse of the Bunch Scot Cockroft of VR Business Group Dallas and Trey Teichelmann Of A&P Real Estate Plano

Stuart Langley
Stuart Langley

How long with compassionate and caring Texans put up with these reactionaries?

Joe Downey
Joe Downey

Need to know why they did not vote to Support it They are both MEN and they both think that Women's only role in Life is to Breed Children

Joe Downey
Joe Downey

Need to know why they did not vote to Support it They are both MEN and they both think that Women's only role in Life is to Breed Children

jason008
jason008

It's a state issue. Period. 10th amendment is still valid, right?

We all agree murder is bad, but it's handled at the state level - not federal.

cliffd972
cliffd972

First of all, Ted Cruz is a poor representative of the Tea Party.

Joy Hengst
Joy Hengst

how ridiculously sad that these two speak for our state

TexMarine
TexMarine

If white man commit crime on tribal land, toss white man body off tribal land.

Wendy Weems
Wendy Weems

Texas-once again leading the way in the asshat-hate-discrimination-bigot category.....well played, gentlemen ::rolls eyes::

Kelly Tomlinson
Kelly Tomlinson

Because they're sexist douchebags? Maybe i should read the article...

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

I'm a woman....we already have laws, we dont need a federal bill or federal money on this, too many others things to worry about when its already a protected class and many laws around it...and yes, leave it at a state level not a federal for the time being....when the federal govt have some more money to take on some more causes and employment level falls below 5%, or embassys stop being blown up, then tackle it. Sigh.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Go Cruz.  The federales have no constitutional authority to mess with common law crimes.

animas
animas

I admit being confused.  This is a law which was written (in 1994) and passed two times but was ineffective in helping Ms. Millich in 1998.  If it is a federal law why wasn't the DOJ and or Colorado US atty involved in Millich's case?  The NY Times article referenced cases being passed off to distant US Atty's offices.  Well I guess if you are in an obscure county in So. Colorado the US Atty would be pretty far away...like Denver, but it IS a federal law,so is that illogical?  Sounds like an ineffective legislative show piece to me...

russell.allison1
russell.allison1

I used to hear a lot about gender equality.  How is it that a group that requires gender (and apparently, sexual orientation) specific protections can see itself, as a group, as being equal?  I would much rather have had them pass a "Violence Against all People act"-then, I (a white, straight, non-native american male) would have been included.   I'm guessing that by the time they added all the special groups to this it probably reads like something produced from a Monty Python skit. 

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

I know it's like a bucket of cold water over the head of statist liberals for any politician to actually admit the federal government has limits. You've stretched them so far I realize those limits have been all but forgotten. 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

The rape kit provision is honorable, but prob a red herring.  We need to find the funding somewhere.  Maybe a rich HP family??  A nickel tax on Tequila?  anyone else got ideas?

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Anna,  grow some huevos and ask Mrs. Cruz and Mrs. Cornyn how they feel.

and KBH.

lynchb85
lynchb85

I don't understand the controversy about allowing tribal courts to prosecute crimes committed on tribal land. That frankly seems obvious to me, and I don't know why it's not already standard practice.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

You don't seem to be very familiar with Tribal Court.  The bill of rights essentially doesn't apply there and there is no due process.  As soon as I read that line, it threw up giant red flags for me.

In any event, how about about we leave domestic violence at the state level where it belongs, and concentrate on applying it to EVERYONE, since women initiate at least half of the instances of domestic violence, yet are rarely prosecuted for it.

dawyv
dawyv

@animas Because the previous iterations of this law did not give tribal courts the jurisdiction to handle criminal cases involving non-tribe members nor did tribal police have authority over non-tribal members who committed these types of crimes.  The newly-pased yet-of-the-same-name law includes such provisions.

MarkO
MarkO

@everlastingphelps Did you pull that stat out of your ass, or do you have an actual document to back it up. According the the Batterer's I work with the women initiated the incident 100% of time. 

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@everlastingphelps The idea that tribal courts are kangaroo courts with no due process is a pretty common misconception, and one that the National Task Force To End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women is happy to clear up for you:

"[T]ribal courts must provide defendants with the same constitutional rights in tribal court as they would have in state court. Defendants would be entitled to the full panoply of constitutional protections, including due-process rights and an indigent defendant’s right to appointed counsel (at the expense of the tribe) that meets federal constitutional standards. This includes the right to petition a federal court for habeas corpus to challenge any conviction and to stay detention prior to review, and explicit protection of “all other rights whose protection is necessary under the Constitution of the United States.”

TL;DR: Defendants have access to the same protections as in state court, and non-native spouses can't beat their Native partners with impunity anymore. Everybody wins. 

http://4vawa.org/pages/tribal-provision-of-s-1925-myths-v-facts

animas
animas

Yes but isn't that kind of like admitting that they didn't pass an effective piece of legislation the first or second times?  I believe that the NYT article bemoans the fact that ANYONE distant from the US Atty  will find the law 's enforcement lacking.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

not sure what AJPH study the Wash Times article is referencing (as it is not cited), but here is a AJPH that states:

  1. "male to female partner violence is more often repeated and is more likely to result in death than female to male partner violence"
  2. "male to female violence represents the more serious public health concern"
  3. "women are victims of...partner homocide at a rate..8x that of men"
  4. women are assaulted by armed intimates ...7x higher than men"
  5. "women are more likely to be repeatedly to be abused, to be injured, and to die as a result of intimate partner violence"

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.88.11.1702

observist
observist topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @observist @MarkO This is one of those cases when you have no point other than aggressive assholery.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@observist @everlastingphelps @MarkO Careful observation has told me that aggressive assholes are what appeal to leftists the most (Che, Clinton, Obama) and are really all that they respond to.  If they are going to be reformed, they have to at the least listen.

observist
observist topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @observist @MarkO  As is often the case, you make a good point... in the most aggressively assholish way possible.

The VAWA appears to encompass a number of issues - domestic abuse, sexual assault, misogynistic (or at least sexist) sub-cultures, etc., each of which predominately but not exclusively affects women, and probably falls under the purview of some other gov't agency.  I'm sure it could be handled in some way that doesn't create a new entity that nominally excludes the all the poor aggrieved white males such as yourself.

Politics being politics, voting against the "Violence Against Women Act" makes one an easy target - like voting against the "Feed Starving Children Act".  I give Cruz credit for standing up for his anti-federal-government principles even if it makes him look like a wife beater.

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@bmarvel - oh yeah, sure Bill.

Except that maveog provided absolutely no evidence whatsoever, zero.

We are reading the same comment thread right?

If The Washington Times is "faux news" based simply because Anna and mavdog say it is, and the only evidence for this claim is an Al Franken book wherein the only person accusing the Washington Times of faking (FAUX) news stories (that just happen to be about Al Franken) is Al Franken, then pardon me if consider the Washington Times to be a more of a trustworthy news source than Anna, mavdog, Al Franken, or you.

Surely as a former "journalist" you understand that, right?

Oh wait, your beat was "art and architecture", never mind.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@mavdog oops, mavdog. You've been sucked down whiteguilt's rathole. No matter what you say, what evidence you present, he'll say "you didn't prove it." it's  game he plays. Try not to fall for it. 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@whiteguiltlib 

how old are you, 11? or are you a moonie and feel threatened?

show Franken was wrong. go ahead, try. until you do, he's more factual than you are. you "dismiss it"? bwahahahaha. too funny.

here's a hint: the times didn't sue him for libel, did they?

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@mavdog - since the only primary source for the "Franken episode" is Al Franken himself, then yes I absolutely do dismiss it as having no basis in fact. The Whelan "quote" that you failed to cite or provide any context for could be referring to anything. Maybe he cut himself shaving.

As for being a "bore", if you imagine that I give a shit about entertaining you then you are even dumber than I previously thought.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@whiteguiltlib

hmm, you dismissed the Franken episode with no basis, and ignored the Whelan quote.

so much for your campaign to show me wrong. you are quite the bore...

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@mavdog - And you have yet to prove ANY of your claims... and you haven't even tried!

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@whiteguiltlib

you have yet to show me wrong.....but keep trying!

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@mavdog - WELL SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE! You failed again! I'm shocked! And also SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE to the fact that the only "source" for your claim is.... wait for it.... one of Al Franken's own books. Pardon me if I don't consider that to be an objective or trustworthy source. You failed again, just like I knew you would. This is way too easy.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@whiteguiltlib

I'm not going to waste the time. If you are too lazy to look it up and show I'm incorrect, tough.

should be easy for you to prove me wrong if you believe the Wash Times is such an outstanding citadel of journalism. but I'm not. and it's not.

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@mavdog - No. You failed. Provide me with a link that clearly explains whatever it is to which you refer, and which proves that the Washington Times deliberately published false news stories about Franken or anything else. It should be easy for you, since it is such an obvious self-evident "fact". Provide a link or fail again.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@whiteguiltlib

look up their story on Al Franken.

you can exhale now...

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@mavdog Oh, it is a "fact" huh? So if it is a "fact" that lots of "stories" were "changed" to fit their "agenda", then it shouldn't be any trouble for you to come up with some actual "proof" with an actual link that proves your claims. You know, if it is such a "fact" and all. I won't hold my breath waiting though.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@whiteguiltlib

yes, it is a fact that reporters stories were changed by management to fit their agenda. that was why there was a great deal of turnover in the writing staff.

James Whelan, the first editor: "I have blood on my hands".

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@mavdog - Are you claiming that prior to 2010 the Washington Times printed news articles (not opinion pieces) that were FALSE?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan @everlastingphelps

Come on Anna, you know that to be totally accurate you'd need to say "bizarre vanity project founded by the Moonies to combat communism, atheism, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Islam, the NEA, homosexuals, and the UN".

to be honest, the Washington Times has become a much better paper since it was sold in 2010. doubt it will be receiving consideration for a Pulitzer, but it isn't the joke of a paper it was when the Moonies ran it.

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@Anna_Merlan - Are you really, in your dipshit naive libtard "snarky" way, actually trying to claim that the news articles printed in the Washington Times are FALSE? If that isn't your claim, then please explain exactly why you call it a "faux" news source. You may put your explanation in the same comment reply to me wherein you will explain why fighting communism isn't cool and groovie and hip with you.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan @everlastingphelps I suppose that cynical "alt weekly" formed to hawk prostitution and other sexually exploitative commerce is a little unwieldy, too, so I'll stick to "the Observer."

whiteguiltlib
whiteguiltlib

@Anna_Merlan - Dear naive sheltered white-guilt "progressive" hipster libtard "journalist" girl: Please explain exactly what it is that you find to be so objectionable about fighting communism.

Tom434
Tom434

@Anna_Merlan @everlastingphelpsTribal authorities couldn't touch him, and she appealed to federal law enforcement with no result.

If this was such a bad case why didn't the Feds do anything.  It seems we already have an agency to prosecute, just a Federal government that didn't do anything  

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@everlastingphelps Calling the Times "a bizarre vanity project founded by the Moonies to combat communism" every single time takes too long, though. 

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@EricCeleste @everlastingphelps  Hi Eric! I rather like Phelps. He's wrong, yes, and he backs up his assertions by linking to ridiculous faux news outlets like the Washington Times. But he's having an engaging argument about the issues in the article, without even calling me a libtard or a baby-killing whore or anything. It's awesome. Keeps things lively. 

I cherish you, Phelps.  

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@everlastingphelps Oh, Phelps. You're adorable. The language of that section gives tribal law enforcement "concurrent criminal jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence persons (including non-Indians) who assault Indian spouses, intimate, partners, or dating partners, or who violate protection orders, in Indian Country."

There's no explicit mention of "men" or "women" there. There's nothing in the law that prevents it from being used to prosecute a non-native woman who's abusing her Native spouse. 

The VAWA does not somehow open the door for abuse against men, no matter what the TV tells you. 

http://www.indian.senate.gov/issues/upload/Native_VAWA_Section-by-Section.pdf

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@everlastingphelps An "explicit agenda" to close an enormous loophole, one that leaves Native women open to endless abuse. Yep. Terrible stuff.  

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