We routinely praise Orange County Congressmembers Alan Lowenthal, Linda Sanchez, and Loretta Sanchez on this site (along with some occasional criticism), and we don’t often praise Ed Royce and Darrel Issa, so it’s nice to get a chance to do the latter as well. We wish that that had more company in being worthy of praise today. Specifically, we wish that Reps. John Campbell and Dana Rohrabacher were not embarrassments to our enlightened county.
For those of you who haven’t been following the story, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — the landmark 1994 law that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence — has been stalled in the House of Representatives because Republicans wanted to eliminate some or all protections for lesbians and transgendered women, Native Americans on reservations, and unauthorized residents. (That last is usually “undocumented workers” or “illegal immigrants” to various of our readers.) It finally passed today, without those exclusions, on a vote of 286-138 — that is, 199 Democrats and 87 Republican Ayes and 138 Republican Nays. Seven representatives, six of them Republican (including our erstwhile former Congressman Gary Miller) did not vote at all.
So: our thanks to those members of OC’s Congressional delegation who did the right thing in this vote! Let’s let the New York Times give some background:
Though the reauthorization passed the Senate earlier this month with 78 votes — including those of every woman, all Democrats and just over half of Republicans — a version unveiled by the House last Friday immediately came under sharp criticism from Democrats and women’s and human rights groups for failing to include certain provisions offered in the Senate bill.
The House bill excluded specific protections for gay, bisexual or transgender victims of domestic abuse — eliminating “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from a list of “underserved populations” that face barriers to receiving victim services — and stripped certain provisions regarding Native American women on reservations.
Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, had committed to passing the legislation in the House only with bipartisan support. On Tuesday night, with House Democrats firmly united against the Republican version, the House Rules Committee approved a bifurcated process to consider the Senate legislation; on Thursday, the House first voted on its substitute amendment and then, when that version failed to pass, it took up and passed the Senate version.
On Thursday, Democrat after Democrat stood on the House floor, urging their colleagues to reject what they said was the weaker House version and to vote for the underlying Senate-passed bill.
By the way, to trot out the “let’s discriminate against people we don’t like” substitute, the Republicans went to their sole women in their leadership, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA). Having thus humiliated herself, she was able to get away with supporting the final bill.
Still, those discriminatory measures are troubling — and in some ways even more troubling for people who were willing to pass the bill even without them. How did our fair county’s delegation do on that vote?
Well, to his credit, Darrell Issa voted against stripping the protection against these classes of women from that bill. Thank you, Rep. Issa — you surprised me in standing with only 59 other Republicans in taking this position. (I still think that you’re nuts, but you showed a good side of yourself today.) Ed Royce, though — yes, you guessed it: Ed Royce voted for the bill that would remove these restrictions, despite his willingness to support the bill even if he lost. Was it the lesbians who bothered him? The Native Americans? Those here without legal status? Someone on speaking terms with him will have to be the one to find out; he won’t talk to me.
So, since Vern has taking to grading politicians, let’s give out grades for just this pair of votes:
Linda Sánchez: A
Loretta Sanchez: A
Alan Lowenthal: A
Darrell Issa: A
Ed Royce: C/C-
John Campbell: F
Dana Rohrabacher: F
Our compliments to Congress for renewing VAWA. We hope those as few people as possible in Orange County ever need its benefits, but we’re glad that it’s there for them.