Political Animal


February 28, 2013 3:23 PM Conservative Hostility to VAWA Not About the Tribes

By Ed Kilgore

As you may know, the House finally passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act today, with 87 Republicans voting “aye” and 138 Republicans voting “no” (all 199 House Democrats voted for the bill). The vote is getting extra attention for representing the third time this year John Boehner has violated the “Hastert Rule” by allowing a vote on major legislation a majority of his caucus opposed. Boehner did arrange for an earlier vote on a Republican alternative to the Senate-passed bill, but the defection of 27 Republicans killed it.

There’s a footnote I’d like to add about the motives for the GOP opponents of the bill. The most often-cited objection involved provisions related to jurisdiction over alleged domestic violence occurring on tribal lands. To see if that was always the biggie, I looked at the votes from GOPers representing two states with no federally recognized tribes, and thus no reservations or tribal courts: Georgia and Tennessee. Every single Republican Member from these two states—9 from Georgia and 7 from Tennessee—voted “no.”

So let’s don’t believe too much about the tribal issue being the deal-breaker.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Josef K on February 28, 2013 3:29 PM:

    So letís donít believe too much about the tribal issue being the deal-breaker.

    I propose we institute a new rule when it comes to GOP rationalizations for its lunacy: The Limbaugh Rule, which is simply anything the GOP says is considered a complete and total lie until proven otherwise.

    It might save a little time and bandwidth when discussing these clowns.

  • exlibra on February 28, 2013 3:37 PM:

    It may not have been the deal-breaker, but it was a good cloak, no? Better sounding than "All them queers deserve every beating they get". Or "If those smarty-pants, lippy girls insist on going to college, they should be prepared to take their lumps"

  • boatboy_srq on February 28, 2013 3:43 PM:

    It was never about the tribes. It was always about Teh Womenvolk, and the Biblical/Constitutional right of The Menvolk to abuse them as necessary, appropriate, desirable, or just plain fun. See also: legitimate rape, transvaginal ultrasound, etc etc.

    Captcha agrees: himself testachm.

  • Colleen C on February 28, 2013 5:00 PM:

    Actually, I have to disagree with you on this one, Ed. This issue was a classic "sovereignty" argument for the old white guys. What? Make a white man subject to Native justice?! It's that principle for them, regardless of whether they have tribal lands anywhere nearby.

  • paul on February 28, 2013 5:29 PM:

    Why would the question of whether there's actually a reservation in someone's jurisdiction have anything to do with whether contempt for tribal authorities was behind their vote against VAWA? Representatives vote on plenty of stuff that doesn't directly affect their constituents.

    But really, this one was way overdetermined for the GOP. Even if it weren't about groups they've historically despised, Democrats were for it, so against was the only possible position.

  • Peter C on February 28, 2013 5:56 PM:

    Well, until they convince me otherwise, I'm going to assume that the ones who voted 'no' approve of violence against women. The burden of proof is now on them.

  • Ann Thurlow on February 28, 2013 10:57 PM:

    I still think that some serious investigative journalist ought to explore possible connections between opponents of VAWA and casino interests. It would seem that they are the ones who might stand to benefit from open season on tribal women. When a vote seems to defy all reason and any concept of decency, independent of political identity, why not ask "cui bono," and follow the money.

  • jkl; on March 01, 2013 3:52 AM:

    Just the way republicans spoke of legitimate rape, demanded vaginal probes, relentlessly pushed anti-abortion laws, pursued taking birth control away, and voted against the violence against women act spotlights their need to control women.
    There is a desperate edge to it all.
    Unforgettable and unforgiveable: men in Congress discussing womens' issues --not one female on the panel.

    Historians should examine this as part of documenting these times. It is shockingly mysoginistic for being a modern era.

  • TomParmenter on March 01, 2013 1:53 PM:

    Ed, as you well know, the Trail of Tears (civilized tribes driven from prosperous farms to barren wastelands) started in Georgia and Tennessee.