The landmark Violence Against Women Act, signed into law in the 1990s to help survivors of domestic violence, is lingering in Washington, D.C. amid partisan squabbles. The Senate, so far, has failed to reauthorize its funding.
The VAWA, says the NAACP, is “one of the most effective pieces of legislation enacted to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.”
In 2017, the latest year of Texas Public Safety data, there were 195,315 incidents of Texas family violence. Of the victims, 72 percent were female. During the same year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received 17,393 calls and chats from Texas.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said on the Senate floor last month, “Folks on both sides of the aisle agree that we need to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. It is something I strongly support.”
The VAWA, he said, “should never be used as a political plaything or pawn.”
But if past is prologue, the senator may be a no vote.
In 2012, Cornyn said all the same things and publicly supported VAWA reauthorization. He then voted against it in 2012 and 2013, citing his belief that provisions in the bill were unconstitutional.
The bill passed the Senate anyway, 78-22.
“This vote smacks of the very worst elements of the radical right wing of the Republican Party, and for Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn to be so thoroughly wedded to partisan political gridlock that they can’t even bring themselves to stand up for the most vulnerable women in their respective states is tantamount to their inability to continue representing their states,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said at the time.
This year opposition to the VAWA stems from the National Rifle Association, which is fighting a new measure allowing police to take guns from abusers. Cornyn received an A+ rating from the NRA during his last election.
At least two women are challenging Cornyn in 2020. A Quinnipiac poll in February found 30% of Texas voters had no opinion of the senator, despite his more than 30 years as an elected official in the Lone Star State.