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Shame on Mitch McConnell for Voting Against VAWA

Mitch McConnell thinks he knows what women need more than they do.

That’s the message he sent Tuesday when he went against every woman in the senate — including those in his own party — in opposing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The bill was not controversial, and it’s easy to see why. Since 1994, VAWA has dramatically improved how our communities deal with domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; both helping women to recover and preventing tragedies from taking place. In that time, instances of domestic violence have decreased by 64 percent. VAWA programs have proven a cost-effective method of helping more than 67,000 victims of domestic violence every single day, with more than 90 percent reporting that the assistance helped. VAWA has proven so effective that that it garnered 78 percent support on Tuesday, and last time it was reauthorized in 2005, it passed the Republican House of Representatives by a vote of 415-4.

But don’t take my word for it. “VAWA programs save lives, and we must allow states and communities the opportunity to build upon the success of current VAWA programs so that we can help even more people.” That was the sentiment expressed in a letter from 17 House Republicans urging their leadership to stop playing politics with this bill.

But for Mitch McConnell, there is never a time to stop playing politics. Especially not with an election on the horizon, and definitely not when his once dependable conservative base has developed a penchant for toppling career politicians like him in favor of tea party outsiders. So the Republican leader is letting Rand Paul call the shots, hiring his family, pandering to the most extreme elements of his party, and basing votes, not on what’s best for Kentuckians, but what best fits Paul’s far-right ideology.

That’s why, despite nearly 80 percent Senate support, Mitch McConnell opposed a massively popular, critically necessary package of protections for women, in Kentucky and throughout the nation — one that he had supported in 1994, 2000, and 2005.

It's a shameful reversal and another in a growing list of disgusting political calculations aimed at protecting his right flank and continuing his 30-year Washington career.

But more than that, it’s an embarrassing act of self-destruction for Kentucky, which boasts 45 highly effective VAWA programs for women who suffer from abuse and violence. These vital resources provide support for our sisters, our mothers and daughters, our neighbors and colleagues, and all women deserve better than to be made a pawn in some political chess match.

Few Kentuckians would tell you that it's ever acceptable to turn our backs on a woman in need. But Mitch McConnell, eager to follow Rand Paul's lead, is trying to do exactly that 67,000 times a day. Women in the Senate and throughout the nation made clear that they know what they want. Now, as citizens of the Commonwealth, it's our job to make clear to Senator McConnell: If you don't stand with women, you don’t stand with Kentucky.