Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

News & Politics News & Politics

House Republicans Derail Bill Targeting Rapists

Posted by on Jan. 3, 2013 at 9:23 PM
  • 13 Replies

House Republicans Derail Bill Targeting Rapists

Congressional GOPers had a last-minute chance to help cops catch more rapists. Instead, they shut the whole thing down.

| Thu Jan. 3, 2013 3:06 AM PST

In the past year, Republicans have gone wild when it comes to rape. They blocked the renewal of theViolence Against Women Act because it would have given tribal courts broader jurisdiction over rape on Native American lands. They told women they can't get pregnant from rape and that babies that result from rape are God's will. Though the GOP did pay a political price for some of this (see: Rep. Todd Akin), as the 112th Congress was hurriedly finishing up its business in the past few days, House Republicans yet again played politics with rape and sabotaged a bipartisan bill that would have made it easier to track down rapists.

The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry Act, also known as the SAFER Act of 2012, was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in the Senate in May, and by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) in the House in December. It would have reallocated $117 million to help make a dent in the nationwide backlog of untested "rape kits," which contain forensic evidence collected after sexual assaults that can help identify perpetrators. There are some 400,000 untested kits sitting in labs around the country. As long as this DNA evidence goes unanalyzed, it's easier for rapists to avoid arrest and prosecution. 

The legislation would have required at least 75 percent of federal grants already allocated for rape kit testing to actually be used for that purpose, or to increase law enforcement agencies' capacity to process the kits. (Some of that money was being spent on conferences and processing DNA for other crimes.) It would also set up a reporting system to track localities' progress in reducing their backlog, and would require yearly audits of the number of untested kits.

"Right now when we give out federal grants, we don't know if they're going to the right places, we don't know if it's going to a place where there's really [a] backlog," Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, told the Houston Chronicle in December. The SAFER Act, he said, "puts money into actually putting rapists in jail."

The bill had broad bipartisan support. Even tea party darling Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was down with it. But it stalled last month in the House judiciary committee, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), over the provision requiring local law enforcement to report the specifics of each backlogged case to the Department of Justice. Penny Nance, head of Concerned Women for America, responded that Smith's committee was about to let a trifling matter effectively kill the crucial bill. "They've got to get their big-boy pants on and get this done," she told the Washington Post.

The Senate did address Smith's concerns in a version of the bill that passed by unanimous consent a day before the end of the year, changing the legislation so that law enforcement agencies only had to report aggregate, not individual, case data to the DOJ. But the congressional calendar ran out before the House voted on it.

But wait! The House suspended its rules in order to take up the bill after the official legislative session had ended, and on Wednesday, it passed the SAFER Act.

Sort of. The House passed an amended bill that came out of Smith's committee; it was different than the measure that had cleared the Senate. With no time left in the legislative session to reconcile the two versions, the legislation is all but dead. Plus, the House bill included a poison pill amendment that removed language that Senators Cornyn, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had worked hard to craft, according to a congressional aide familiar with the process. Their language would have specifically authorized not just forensic labs, but law enforcement agencies, to receive grant money to help process rape kits. Another Congressional staffer told Mother Jones that amending this language was the only way Smith would allow the bill to move to the House floor for a vote. And so, with his unreconciled version, Smith essentially killed the bipartisan bill.

If the House had passed the Senate version of the bill, the law could have squeaked in under the wire and been signed by President Obama. Smith's office did not respond to a request for comment on why the bill was amended.

House bill sponsor Poe said rapists do "everything they can to harm women emotionally, to steal their souls—and knowing who did it is very important to healing," according to the Post. Thanks to this latest episode of Republican obstructionism, some rape victims will have to wait even longer.

by on Jan. 3, 2013 at 9:23 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
Aivlys_
by Bronze Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 9:26 PM
1 mom liked this
Link?
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
shannonnigans
by Silver Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 9:39 PM

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/rape-kit-safer-act-lamar-smith-republicans

I think that blocking renewal of the Violence Against Women Act was equally awful, if not moreso, but I suppose its hard to say.

nanaofsix531
by Platinum Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/rape-kit-safer-act-lamar-smith-republicans

Quoting Aivlys_:

Link?


LucyMom08
by Silver Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 9:42 PM
That's sad...I was just reading about the horrific Steubenville rape case...so many people think nothing of the act of violence of rape :(
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
LucyMom08
by Silver Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 9:44 PM
And how obstructive can one Congress be? This was a truly bipartisan bill and it was still killed...what hope is there for anything being accomplished?
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
imamomzilla
by on Jan. 3, 2013 at 11:14 PM
2 moms liked this

 Good grief. Libs seem to be obsessed with that topic. SMH

They "shut down" a lot of important legislation so they could avoid the fiscal cliff. Or have you forgotten?

                                                             nativity


sweet-a-kins
by Ruby Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 11:16 PM
They are sick

Quoting shannonnigans:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/rape-kit-safer-act-lamar-smith-republicans


I think that blocking renewal of the Violence Against Women Act was equally awful, if not moreso, but I suppose its hard to say.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
sweet-a-kins
by Ruby Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Same as the Sandy bill
The fiscal cliff bill also had the votes to pass before it was put for vote

Boehner and company were just holding it hostage because they didnt get what they wanted


Quoting LucyMom08:

And how obstructive can one Congress be? This was a truly bipartisan bill and it was still killed...what hope is there for anything being accomplished?
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
LucyMom08
by Silver Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 11:25 PM

  Haha...

Quoting sweet-a-kins:

Same as the Sandy bill
The fiscal cliff bill also had the votes to pass before it was put for vote

Boehner and company were just holding it hostage because they didnt get what they wanted


Quoting LucyMom08:

And how obstructive can one Congress be? This was a truly bipartisan bill and it was still killed...what hope is there for anything being accomplished?

 

mmccrea
by Member on Jan. 3, 2013 at 11:30 PM

That is the GOP all right.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN