published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Tennessee’s House Republicans all vote against renewing Violence Against Women Act

by Chris Carroll

WASHINGTON — All seven Tennessee Republicans in the U.S. House today voted against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.

That group includes U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Jasper.

The Volunteer State’s two Democratic House members — U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis — supported the legislation, siding with the majority. The Republican-dominated House passed the legislation 286-138.

Eighty-seven House Republicans supported the final bill. No Democrats opposed it.

Now headed to the Oval Office, the bill reauthorizes various dating and domestic abuse initiatives. They include rape prevention programs, HIV/AIDS counseling and specialized training for law enforcement officials handling sexual assault cases.

The bill was identical to legislation that recently passed the Senate 78-22. U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, both Tennessee Republicans, supported the Senate bill.

House leaders brought the Senate bill to the floor only after a Republican substitute failed to pass on Thursday. Fleischmann, DesJarlais and three other Tennessee Republicans voted for the substitute, which eliminated Senate protections for homosexuals, American Indian women and other groups.

In interviews earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan of Knoxville expressed reservations about the bill’s total cost. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood frowned upon provisions that prohibit discrimination against homosexual and transgender victims. Other Republicans opposed language that gives tribal courts new authority to prosecute non-native people.

Spokespeople for Tennessee’s House Republicans have not responded to requests for comment on today’s vote.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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