157 Republicans just opposed renewing the Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON ― The House passed legislation Thursday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, despite the vast majority of Republicans opposing it amid pressure from the National Rifle Association.

The bill, which reauthorizes the landmark 1994 domestic violence law for another five years, easily passed. But 157 Republicans voted against it, along with one Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.). For many of them, it was because the NRA was pushing them to oppose it over its gun safety provisions and warning that a vote in favor of the bill would be reflected in their NRA rating. 

Under current federal law, only people convicted of domestic violence offenses against spouses or family members can lose their gun rights. The VAWA would add people convicted of abusing their dating partners, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” It would also prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses from owning or buying firearms, as well as abusers subject to temporary protective orders.

Most of the GOP caucus opposed the bill because of the gun measures, said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), one of 33 Republicans who voted for it.

“That seems to be the main issue,” said King, who has an F rating with the NRA. “I mean, there’s others as far as transgender [protections in the bill], but the main issue is the guns.”

The NRA has incredible sway over Republicans in Congress because of all the money it gives them ― and threatens to spend against them if they break from the group’s agenda. In the 2018 election cycle, it gave $690,950 to GOP congressional candidates versus $19,454 to Democratic congressional candidates. The gun rights organization spent nearly half a billion dollars in the 2016 election cycle, including $30 million on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign alone.

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
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The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
A gun rights demonstrator armed with a rifle walks past a sign memorializing the children and teachers killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, as protesters aligned with the Women's March hold a rally against the National Rifle Association at NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters listen to U.S. President Donald Trump deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Onlookers, including a man wearing a National Rifle Association (NRA) t-shirt, watch as a 95-by-50-foot American flag is unfurled on the side of an apartment complex, a replica of the "The Great Flag" that was spun, woven, dyed, constructed and displayed on the same building by Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1914, in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) and Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (R) welcome U.S. President Donald Trump (C) onstage to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
File Photo: NRA gun enthusiasts view Sig Sauer rifles at the National Rifle Association's annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. on May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over Smith & Wesson guns at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
James Bell from Nashville, TN, look over rifle scopes from Burris Riflescope at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
Gun enthusiasts poses for a picture with an FN MK 48 machine gun and a MK 19 grenade launcher at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over guns at FN America firearms at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun instructor Robert Allen (L) works with Eathan Hawkins (8) at the air gun range at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Indiana Governor Mike Pence addresses members of the National Rifle Association during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Attendees recite the pledge of allegiance before the National Rifle Association's NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Activists hold a protest and vigil against gun violence on the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Brendan Walsh looks at a rifle scope in the trade booths showroom during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Fans wait in line to meet musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, who was signing autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, signs autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Dave Verner looks at pistols and scopes in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Brett Throckmorten of Barnes Bullets shows Logan Wingo how to sight down an electronic rifle in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
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Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) said Thursday that he had concerns about the gun provisions in the VAWA bill but said they were “secondary” to other things he didn’t like.

“You have so many jurisdictions of committees that this bill is intertwined [with], it’s very complicated,” said Thompson, who has an A rating with the NRA. “This hasn’t even been vetted in seven or eight other committees that may have some pieces of it.”

Peterson, the lone Democrat who opposed the bill and who has an A rating with the NRA, said the gun provisions were “partisan,” and that’s why he voted no.

I was disappointed that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization was made partisan with the inclusion of language that would strip individuals’ right to due process with respect to their 2nd Amendment rights,” he said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has an A+ rating with the NRA, had been urging Republicans to get behind an alternative VAWA bill, sponsored by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). Her proposal, which failed 185 to 237, would have extended current law for a year ― leaving out the gun safety measures and other expanded protections for Native American women, transgender people and victims of sexual assault on college campuses.

Stefanik, who has an A rating with the NRA, said lawmakers should support her bill because Democrats’ bill won’t go anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“Can we stop playing political games at the expense of vulnerable women?” she said in remarks on the House floor, to cheers from Republicans and groans from Democrats. “The Democratic bill on the floor today will collect dust in the Senate.”

But Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) criticized Republicans for trying to strip out the most “basic” protections for victims of domestic violence, including the gun safety provisions. She touched on her own experiences of growing up with an abusive, gun-owning father.

“I remember what it was like when you called the police and they didn’t come because your father was an important man in town,” said Dingell.

She called out the NRA for trying to defeat the VAWA over its gun safety provisions, which she said shouldn’t even be hard to support since they respond to pretty stark statistics: One in seven women has been stalked by an intimate partner to the point where they felt afraid or believed they would be harmed. And the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

“Do not let the NRA bully you!” shouted Dingell, who has an abysmal rating with the group. “This is not a poison pill.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are working on their own as-yet-introduced VAWA legislation. It’s not likely the gun provisions in the House bill will advance in the Senate.

“There are a number of improvements in the House bill that I think should be in our version, including preserving improvements already made in the 2013 reauthorization,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I hope the Senate will move quickly.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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