U.S. House candidate Eric Stewart sent out this press release criticizing U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais's vote to defund federal support and services offered to abused women:
At a time when Tennessee’s Governor and U.S. Senators are strengthening state and federal laws to protect women from violence, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) voted to defund support and services offered to abused women.
Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), both voted to reauthorize and fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last month.
The Act was originally passed by Congress in 1994 and provides funding for investigation and prosecution of crimes against women, but DesJarlais refused to support the measure and instead supported an intensely partisan bill that narrows and cuts funding of domestic violence investigations.
Rather than supporting the Senate’s version of the bill (S.B. 1925), which passed with wide bipartisan support, DesJarlais chose to vote for legislation (H.R. 4970) that narrows and defunds the support provided to abuse victims. More than 300 advocacy groups opposed DesJarlais efforts to limit services for abuse victims, including the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and National Organization of Women.
Eric Stewart, current state senator and candidate for Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district, says the vote that DesJarlais made is one that gives abused women less protections.
“Our elected officials at the state and federal level should do everything they can to strengthen laws that prevent violence against women and prosecute those who commit the violence,” Stewart said.
According to the Violence Policy Center, Tennessee has one of the highest violence rates against women in the country, with Tennessee ranking 5th in the nation for the rate at which women are murdered by men. Gov. Bill Haslam (R-Tenn.) made reducing these numbers a priority in Tennessee this year by introducing legislation (HB 2389) to increase the penalties on domestic violence offenders.
Haslam’s legislation, supported by Stewart, passed unanimously in the Republican-controlled Tennessee State Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam, also a Republican.
“Our Governor, State Senate, State House, and U.S. Senators fully support legislation that protects women in our state from abuse and violence,” Stewart added. “The people of Tennessee’s 4th District need a Congressman that will do the same.”