WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders are lining up a vote on their Violence Against Women Act bill later this week. But before that happens, two grassroots groups are launching an ad campaign that trashes the GOP bill for watering down protections for women and urges lawmakers to support a broader bill that has already cleared the Senate.
MoveOn.org and UltraViolet, a women's rights group, will begin airing their ad on Tuesday on Washington cable channels, including Bravo, MSNBC and Lifetime. The 30-second ad features a woman with bruises on her face that start fading -- and then coming back -- as a narrator talks about the rolled back protections in the House GOP bill.
"Three women die every day from domestic violence. That's why the Violence Against Women Act was passed, helping decrease domestic violence by 67 percent," says the female narrator. "But this week House Republicans want to pass a Violence Against Women Act that discriminates against some women. Tell Congress all women deserve protection. Call your representative and tell them to pass the expanded Violence Against Women Act. Women are watching."
House Republican leaders unveiled their VAWA bill late last week, and almost immediately came under fire for leaving out key protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, Native American and immigrant victims of abuse that are included in the bipartisan Senate bill, which passed that chamber earlier this month. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women opposes the House bill. Even Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a key advocate for tribal protections, said the GOP bill doesn't go far enough.
UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said VAWA is one of "the top two" priority issues for her organization. She said to expect the group's roughly 380,000 members to be engaged in the VAWA debate for as long as it takes to get an all-inclusive bill to the president's desk. That includes a new petition on VAWA.
"We're going to make it hard for Republicans and conservatives every day and every way on this issue," Chaudhary said. "They're not going to be able to not hear from women voters about this."
Anna Galland, the executive director of MoveOn, said her organization plans to rally its nearly 8 million members to pressure lawmakers for a VAWA bill that "doesn't leave so many women vulnerable." She emphasized the key role that grassroots groups, and women voters in general, had in last year's elections.
"MoveOn members have been organizing for a long time in many different ways to turn the tide on the war on women," Galland said. "We see this as extension of that fight. The last election is the clearest recent example that our members' work and the work of our allies is having an effect."
The House is expected to begin debate on its VAWA bill on Wednesday, with a vote likely on Thursday.