Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) is so passionate about protecting women that he even wrote an editorial entitled Republicans Renew War on Women in The Huffington Post.
So passionate about women is Senator Reid that he has neither a female chief of staff nor a female communications director. In contrast, Sharon Soderstorm is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Chief of Staff and Beth Jafari is Minority Whip John Cornyn’s (R-TX) Chief of Staff. In addition, Senate leaders Cornyn, Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD), Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) all have female communications directors. But I digress.
Remember that actions often speak louder than words. Illustrating this idiom is Senator Reid’s inaction regarding the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014. Named after sexual assault survivor Debbie Smith, the Act provides funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to perform DNA tests on evidence they collect from rape crime scenes. Renewal of this act helps law enforcement continue to reduce the backlog of untested DNA from rape kits and therefore prosecute offenders.
This Act is a bi-partisan bill, originally authored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and passed by Congress as part of larger legislation, the Justice for All Act of 2004, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 30, 2004. The Act also amends the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 to broaden the type of survivors eligible for legal assistance to include survivors of dating violence. Senator Reid refused to allow a vote on the Debbie Smith Act and instead will only allow a vote on broader legislation that includes this Act, the Justice for All Reauthorization Act.
All Senators are in favor of passing the Debbie Smith Act. Senator Cornyn wanted a vote on the Debbie Smith Act itself, without yet including the Justice for All Act, because Cornyn’s colleague objects to an aspect of the Justice for All Act, unrelated to the rape kit provision. If Senator Reid had allowed a vote on the Debbie Smith Act, it would have gone directly to the White House, where President Obama would have signed the Act into law.
Senator Reid is, as usual, playing partisan games. Senator Reid will accuse Republicans of being obstructionists because Republicans first want to pass a provision of the Justice for All Act rather than the entire legislation. Pot, meet kettle. See?
Instead of helping millions of rape survivors, Senator Reid would rather deny Republicans the ability to say that they are helping women because Senator Reid wants to keep alive the rhetoric that Republicans have declared a War on Women. That is despicable. Sexual assault survivors are not pawns in Senator Reid’s transparent chess game. I hope that voters will think about this as they head to the polls this November. Women, along with all Americans, can not afford to have a Senate Majority Leader who would deny rape victims justice because of partisan nonsense.