MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

March 12, 2013

Congress messed with a good thing

— Congress should be applauded and chastised for passing the Violence Against Women Act.

Congress deserves to take a bow for passing a bill that helps in the fight against violence against women.

The law provides funding for local organizations such as Women In Safe Home and for training for law enforcement to deal with domestic violence.

In many ways it was a no-brainer to pass.

VAWA has been around for years. It was first passed in 1994 and had been in force until the end of 2011.

Unfortunately, it was then that Congress began to stick its collective feet in its mouth by messing with a good thing.

It took more than one year to reauthorize a law that never should have been allowed to expire.

That’s because legislators began to add riders and provisions that made a good bill into a potentially bad law.

Legislators do that to try to hide sometimes controversial mandates in a bill that no legislator would be crazy enough to vote against.

When constituents see a bill labeled the Violence Against Women Act, they assume their legislators will vote yes.

Why would anyone vote against protections for domestic violence victims?

Legislators have to vote for bills as a whole and not the individual parts.

For instance, the bill that passed was held up last year partly because it included the expansion of jurisdiction of Native American courts.

That discussion delayed passage because some legislators did not want to pass a bill that included provisions that needed more investigation.

But many legislators voted for the bill because they did not want to become known as someone who had no empathy for domestic violence victims.

Congress deserves thanks for passing VAWA. It should learn to work on the topic at hand.

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