WASHINGTON -- With House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) set to give a major speech Tuesday aimed at showing his party's softer side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched a new ad accusing Cantor of stalling last year's Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
"The Senate is about to pass a new Violence Against Women Act and send it to the House. But what will Eric Cantor and Tea Party House Republicans do?" begins the two-minute video, released Tuesday morning. Against the backdrop of sad piano music, the video features clips from cable TV news shows of people talking about last year's VAWA bill. In the clips they say the legislation is being held up over House GOP opposition to new protections for LGBT, Native American and immigrant victims of domestic abuse. The Senate added those provisions into the bill, but House Republicans refused to support them, calling them politically driven. VAWA didn't get reauthorized as a result.
The DCCC video ends with words on the screen: "Congress should protect all Americans. Stop the Tea Party House Republicans' War on Women. Tell them to pass The Violence Against Women Act -- now."
Cantor spokesman Doug Heye dismissed the video Tuesday, saying that "political attacks like the DCCC's only impede what should be everyone's goal -- protecting women and prosecuting offenders."
It's no coincidence that the video lands on the same day the House GOP leader is giving a talk at the American Enterprise Institute titled "Making Life Work," which is expected to touch on issues including education, health care, workforce reform, immigration and innovation. Cantor's event is being viewed as part of a broader effort by the Republican Party to try to revive its bruised public image after November's election.
DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner said House Republicans can rebrand themselves all they want, but that doesn't change the fact that many are anti-woman.
"No matter how much the Tea Party House Republicans try to rebrand their party, the fact remains: They are still the party that is blocking funding to prevent domestic violence," Bittner said in a statement. “For years, the Violence Against Women Act enjoyed broad, bipartisan support -- until the Tea Party War on Women. American women don’t want to see the clock turned back on their safety or their rights, and no sales job can change the truth."
VAWA is already off to a fast start in this Congress. The Senate is poised to vote on its VAWA reauthorization bill on Thursday, and it is expected to pass that chamber with broad support. Proponents of the Senate bill say that puts the onus, once again, on House Republican leaders to move the issue forward.
"The ultimate fate of VAWA still lays squarely on the shoulders of Eric Cantor and John Boehner," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement. "They can either give in to the extreme voices of their caucus or they can stand with Democrats, moderate Republicans, and the many millions of Americans who believe there is no reason this critical bill should be put on the back burner or delayed any further."
This story has been updated to reflect comment from Cantor's office.