As many Senate Republicans prepare to defend their opposition to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a visibly annoyed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) delivered a floor speech Thursday morning expressing his support for the bill. He also accused Democrats of fabricating the so-called GOP "War on Women" as a political tactic.
"My friends, this supposed 'War on Women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect: The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television," he said. "Neither purpose does anything to advance the well-being of any American."
"To suggest that one group of us or one party speaks for all women or that one group has an agenda to harm women and another to help them is ridiculous," he continued.
McCain said he supports reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which many of his GOP colleagues oppose because it extends protections to LGBT victims of domestic abuse and expands a visa program for victims who are undocumented immigrants.
"Women and men are no different in their rights and responsibilities," he said. "I believe this legislation recognizes that. I don’t believe the ludicrous, partisan posturing that has conjured up this imaginary war does."
Democrats have increasingly referred to the "War on Women" over the past several months to describe the GOP's sustained legislative focus on issues that affect women's health and rights. An amendment to a sweeping transportation bill pushed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) would have allowed employers to deny women contraception coverage for any moral reason. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) vetoed funding for rape crisis centers last week, and several GOP governors supported legislation that mandates medically unnecessary ultrasound procedures for women who are seeking abortions. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), meanwhile, recently repealed the state's equal pay law.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) responded to McCain's comments in an email to HuffPost on Thursday.
“Anybody who says that women’s health care, access to contraception, and equal pay for equal work aren’t real issues that really matter may not be accounting for the views of over half our population,” she said.