Terry O’Neill: This Season’s Paul Ryan? Eric Cantor Takes on VAWA
Unfortunately, Eric Cantor is either too tone-deaf or too arrogant to do the right thing. Rather than moving swiftly to pass the Senate VAWA bill, Cantor has produced a “substitute amendment” that eliminates protections contained in the Senate bill, and even scales back current law, while also undermining the Office on Violence Against Women. Among its many flaws, this substitute drops LGBT protections; permits non-Native suspects to circumvent tribal authorities, leaving Native American women with inadequate protection from their abusers; and allows college and university administrations to shirk their duty to keep students safe from sexual assault.
To boot, in keeping with the Republicans’ 2013 stealth strategy as telegraphed by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (i.e., stick with the extremist anti-woman agenda but don’t be so obvious about it), Cantor has put his own stealth moves on VAWA: His bill is deceptively numbered S. 47 (because it’s a substitute amendment of the Senate bill), and it was put forward by a woman, House Republican Conference Co-Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). I’d say that’s too clever by half. Women voters are not so easily fooled, and will likely be offended by the clumsy attempt at subterfuge.
Eric Cantor is like this season’s Paul Ryan: an influential conservative with bad ideas who has thus far escaped public scrutiny. This time around we don’t have a Mitt Romney to help raise Cantor’s profile, but that’s okay. The majority leader’s attempt to derail a hugely popular bipartisan VAWA — and his willingness to write off the more than 1,400 local, state and national organizations that have expressed support for the Senate bill — will ensure that he will have to answer to the voters for his actions, probably sooner rather than later. Let me be the first to say it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.