Conservative Hostility to VAWA Not About the Tribes

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

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.