The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2013 passed the Senate with 78 “aye” votes. That’s dramatically up from previous versions of the bill. In 1994, in a Senate controlled by Democrats (with a large group of conservative Dems), the Violence Against Women Act got 38 “nays.” The last version of VAWA, in 2012, earned “nays” from senators not usually seen as radical, like Richard Lugar, John Kyl, and Orrin Hatch. There were only 22 “nays” this time—including Hatch again, but generally smaller than the last “nay” gang.
One of those nays, as Democrats will point out until November 2016 or so, was Marco Rubio. He explains himself:
Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there’s no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions. These funding decisions should be left up to the state-based coalitions that understand local needs best, but instead this new legislation would put those decisions into the hands of distant Washington bureaucrats in the Department of Justice.
I watched Rubio wrestle over his VAWA vote at a gathering put on by Buzzfeed last week. “Who’s for violence against women?” he asked. That’s sort of the point of titling a bill this way.