For the second time in a year, U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has voted against re-authorizing the popular Violence Against Women Act. Wednesday’s vote was 78-to-22 in favor of renewing programs that prevent-and-respond to domestic and sexual abuse.
Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted with the majority, while Johnson called the measure unconstitutional.
The 19-year-old package lapsed in 2011, after getting routine bi-partisan renewals. But it got caught up in partisan wrangling since then.
Johnson voted no last April to reauthorizing the act, and he accused Democrats of politicizing the issue. He said it should have included an interstate DNA database to catch sex offenders who cross state lines – and more analysts were needed to reduce backlogs of DNA evidence in rape cases.
This time, Johnson objected to letting tribal courts prosecute non-Indian men who are arrested for abusing tribal women on reservations. He called it an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority.
The Oshkosh lawmaker also questioned the costs of the domestic abuse act. Some analysts said it would add $2-billion to the federal deficit – and Johnson said he was stymied to find out the real costs. Johnson said he supported an alternative package which does not include what he called “serious flaws.”
Maggie Brickerman, the director of the State Democratic Party, called Johnson’s vote quote, “blind extremism.”