We noted yesterday that the Democrats have continued their phony “war against women” campaign by alleging in fundraising appeals that Senate Republicans “will oppose re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act,” thereby “put[ting] women’s lives in danger.” This is just one more in a series of Democrat scams, intended to 1) divert attention from the Obama administration’s record of failure, and 2) raise money from the Democrats’ gullible base. What is actually going on, as we wrote yesterday, is that Senate Democrats have slipped extraneous provisions into this year’s version of the Violence Against Women Act, and have refused to consider the Republican alternative, drafted by Senator Grassley, that strips out those inappropriate provisions or imposes safeguards to prevent their abuse.
A Senate Republican background document explains the actual issues that are at stake in the competing versions of VAWA. It says, in part:
VAWA has enjoyed bipartisan support since it was enacted in 1994 and in each of its subsequent reauthorizations in 2000 and 2006.
Last year, when the Judiciary Committee marked up the bill, it contained controversial provisions that were never included in earlier versions of the bill. It also lacked much needed fraud protection provisions regarding grant funds and immigration. …
Senator Grassley introduced an amendment that authorized aid for victims and also protected against fraud and misuse of funds. The Democrats refused to work with Republicans to write a bill that could enjoy bipartisan support in Committee.
One area of abuse by the Democrats relates to immigration. You may wonder what immigration has to do with the Violence Against Women Act:
Background: 10,000 U-visas are available annually to immigrants who are likely to aid in certain criminal investigations. The purpose of the U-visa is to aid law enforcement in investigations. Immigrants who are here illegally as well as immigrants who are not in the country may apply for a U-visa. There is no requirement that the U-visa recipient actually aid in an investigation or that there even be an investigation underway. The immigrant may stay here for 4 years under a U-visa. After 3 years, a U-visa recipient may apply for an adjustment of status and become a legal permanent resident. This creates a breeding ground for fraud because illegal immigrants that are currently in deportation proceedings may apply for a U-visa with intention of actually aiding law enforcement.
The Leahy bill creates 5K more U-visas annually, but lacks needed provisions to ensure that the purpose of the visa is fulfilled. The Democrats refused to support such provisions.
The Grassley amendment contained provisions that will ensure that the available 10K visas go to immigrants who actually qualify by:
* Requiring that the crime on which the visa is based be reported within 60 days of its occurrence;
* Requiring that the statute of limitations has not run on the crime, which would prevent prosecution; and
* Requiring that the crime be under active investigation or prosecution.
The Democrats’ unwillingness to accept such common-sense provisions to prevent fraud demonstrates their bad faith. There are also issues relating to “self-petitioners,” another category of immigrants who can get visas under the Violence Against Women Act. (Who knew?) Once again, the Republican version of the bill contains obvious measures to prevent immigration fraud, which the Democrats refuse to consider or vote on.
In a departure from all legal precedent, the Democrats’ version of the VAWA renewal, authored by Pat Leahy, extends the criminal jurisdiction of Indian tribal courts to cover non-Indians. The Republican version tries to rein in this shocking–and I would think unconstitutional–innovation:
Tribal Jurisdiction: In a dramatic break from legal precedent, the Leahy bill gave criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian individuals to Indian Tribes. A hearing was never held on this provision, so the consequences of such a drastic measure are unknown.
While the bill’s jurisdiction is limited to domestic violence offenses, once such an extension of jurisdiction is established, there would be no principled reason not to extend it to other offenses as well. A non-Indian subject to tribal jurisdiction would enjoy few meaningful civil-rights protections. Courts have held, for example, that tribal governments are not bound by the Constitution’s First, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendments.
Unbelievable. The last area where the two versions of VAWA differ relates to the Republicans’ effort to minimize fraud in the administration of cash grants. The Democrats, as usual, simply want to pass money out to their cronies without any meaningful oversight of how it is spent:
Lack of Grant Oversight: The Leahy bill authorized over $600K [sic] for VAWA grant programs. While this was a reduction from the 2006 authorization, the bill lacked much needed oversight provisions for the spending of grant funds. There is overwhelming evidence that without oversight provisions, the funds given to grantees under VAWA may not be used to protect victims of domestic violence.
The Department of Justice Inspector General (DOJ/OIG) has frequently questioned grantees’ use of sizable portions of the grants.
For example, a July 2010 audit of the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. in Wilmington, Delaware, resulted in the questioning of the use of 93% of the $891,422 Legal Assistance for Victims grant. Similarly, a September 2005 audit of Legal Aid of Nebraska questioned 64.5% of its $1,981,552 grant for the same purpose.
Most of the grantees audited by the DOJ/OIG in 2010 were found to have used some grant funds questionably and had often failed to properly document their use of the funds (21 out of 22 grantees audited). The Grassley amendment addressed these problems by requiring the DOJ/OIG to audit 10% of all grantees annually and discontinuing funds for those grantees that are found to be using them for unallowable purposes. Democrats did not support this provision.
So what we have here is another case of the Democrats attempting to use a program that is popular but little-understood, the Violence Against Women Act, to advance their collateral political agendas by facilitating waste, immigration fraud, and so on. When Republicans offered reforms to prevent these blatant abuses, the Democrats howled that Republicans are trying to kill the Violence Against Women Act. The Democrats think their voters are dumb enough to fall for this kind of nonsense. They are probably right.