On Capitol Hill, Democrats are aggressively pushing the case that Republicans are now waging a “War on Women” on three legislative fronts. First, they are blasting House Republicans for their proposal to block changes to the Violence Against Women Act that would extend protection to battered women who are LGBT, immigrants or Native Americans who live on tribal lands. “We are seeing the sheer gender bias of their so-called ‘clean’ bill,” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said Friday. “They don’t want to sully their hands dealing with women in the shadows.”
Second, they’ve cast the GOP proposal to lower student rates by taking money out of Obamacare’s prevention fund as another “assault on women,” as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put it at the news conference — which, appropriately enough, was held in a small alcove in the Capitol lined with statues of former male senators. According to the female Democrats, the prevention fund targets osteoporosis, arthritis and mental illness, “which disproportionately affect women,” explained Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). So by targeting such funds, Republicans are going out of their way to go after women, the Dems’ argument goes. “Their assault on women’s health is part of their continued assault on women,” Pelosi concluded.
In fact, the prevention fund’s biggest programs don’t aim to target women in particular: As my colleague Sarah Kliff pointed out this morning, most of the money goes toward training primary-care doctors and investing in community-level health programs to reduce smoking, obesity and other problems.
But the Democrats aren’t going to let up their push to cast Republicans as the party against women. As my colleague Greg Sargent reports today, Senate Democrats are planning to hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which “would put more pressure on employers to prove that differences in wages are not rooted in gender difference, and would make it easier for employees to divulge information about their salaries” to combat gender-based pay discrimination.
Republicans insist that Democrats are fabricating the “War on Women” to score political points. After hearing the Dems’ pushback against preventative health, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) erupted on the House floor Friday. “Why do people insist that we have to have a political fight on something where there is no fight? ... My God, do we have to fight about everything?” Boehner said as his colleagues cheered him on. “And now, now we are going to have a fight over women’s health. Give me a break. This is the latest plank in the so-called war on women. Entirely created, entirely created by my colleagues across the aisle for political gain.”
Democrats don’t agree that the “War on Women” is something they concocted out of thin air. But they do agree that it is leading to political gain for them. “Democrats have a 15 to 20 percent gender gap advantage, and [Republicans] worked very hard to earn that gender gap,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) concluded.