Violence Against Women Act Now Touted By Republicans Who Voted Against Bill

WASHINGTON -- When Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill late last month, more than 130 House Republicans voted against it. But some of those same lawmakers are putting out misleading statements that make it look like they voted for the bill instead.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), for one, issued a statement with the headline, "King Votes in Support of Violence Against Women Act." But King didn't vote for the VAWA bill. Instead, he voted for a GOP alternative bill that failed to advance.

"I supported VAWA in 2005, 2012, and today I voted in support of the House version to see that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault have access to the resources and protection when they need it most," King's statement reads.

Then there's Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), who disputed his VAWA vote with a constituent during a Facebook Town Hall. "Please make sure you have the facts right. I DID vote in favor of VAWA today," Johnson wrote. But he didn't.

The list goes on. As Steve Benen of The Maddow Blog first reported, a smattering of local newspapers have called out lawmakers including Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) for being deceptive about how they voted.

Some Republicans found creative ways to make it look like they voted for VAWA. In a statement titled "Proud to Support House VAWA," Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) says he voted for "House passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization (H.Res. 83)." But that measure isn't the VAWA bill or even the GOP alternative; instead, it's a resolution that authorizes a procedural step forward to begin debate on VAWA.

Aides to some of those lawmakers have pushed back on the idea they were being deceptive. Walberg spokeswoman Sarah Kuziomko told MLive.com that Walberg's statement was "in support of the version of the Violence Against Women Act that included the conscience protection clause," referring to the GOP proposal that failed.

A Johnson spokesman told HuffPost that the congressman voted against the VAWA bill that passed because it was a "politically–motivated, constitutionally-dubious Senate version bent on dividing women into categories by race, transgender politics and sexual preference.”

Hartzler spokesman Steve Walsh told McClatchy that the congresswoman wasn't trying to be misleading about having only voted for the GOP alternative to VAWA.

Despite voting against VAWA, Hartzler "is happy that there will be benefits going to victims of abuse under the version that passed," Walsh said.

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) put out a press release titled, "Pittenger supports stronger version of VAWA," though he voted for the pared-down GOP alternative bill that didn't pass. Pittenger spokeswoman Jamie Bowers said that congressman voted against the VAWA bill that passed because he thought the GOP alternative would do more to protect women.

"The press release accurately conveys the facts about the competing versions of VAWA and Congressman Pittenger’s strong support for efforts to end domestic violence, combat sex trafficking, and provide meaningful support for victims," Bowers told HuffPost.

Spokespeople for King, Rothfus, Murphy and Griffin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Emily Bittner called it "shameful" that Republicans would try to take credit for something that passed without their support.

"The fact is, Tea Party Republicans want to take credit for something they fought tooth and nail for more than 500 days: a law to help protect all women and their children from domestic violence ... Tea Party House Republicans must stop saying one thing at home and doing the opposite in Washington," Bittner said in a statement.

This article has been updated to include the comment of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

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