Pence votes against the Violence Against Women Act, which includes funding for Turning Point in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, has voted against renewing a landmark bill that aims to reduce domestic and sexual violence and improve the response to it through grants to state and local governments and nonprofits, including Turning Point Domestic Violence Services in Columbus.

Lisa Shafran, president of Turning Point, said grant programs from the Office on Violence Against Women have been “invaluable in our ability to be able to work with survivors of domestic violence.”

Currently, Turning Point is the recipient of three grants from the Office on Violence Against Women, representing about a quarter of the organization’s budget, or $600,000, Shafran said.

Pence voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act on Wednesday for the second time since 2019, stating in a guest column to The Republic that he supports the programs in the legislation, but voted against reauthorizing them because the latest incarnation of the bill contains “partisan poison pills.”

More specifically, Pence singled out provisions on transgender women and gender identity in the bill and an expanded definition of domestic violence that includes “economic and emotional duress,” among other items.

The second-term congressman also suggested that the bill would “deny women their Second Amendment rights and ability to protect themselves.”

There is nothing in the current text of the bill that would prevent domestic violence survivors from purchasing firearms, though the bill would add gun restrictions for people who have been convicted of “misdemeanor or felony crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking,” which many Republicans oppose.

Pence voted against reauthorizing the Act on April 4, 2019, federal records show. Many Republicans, along with the National Rifle Association, objected to a provision that would have closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which would have barred those convicted of abusing, assaulting or stalking a current or former dating partner from buying or owning a firearm, according to The Associated Press.

At the time, the NRA said the language in the bill was overly vague and could result in the law being applied too broadly and accused Democrats of using the Act “as a smoke screen to push their gun-control agenda,” according to wire reports.

The 2019 bill never made it out of the Republican-controlled Senate, according to federal records.

“House Democrats have politicized VAWA, injecting partisan policies into the bill and expanding it in a way that I cannot support,” Pence said in the column. “…I find these provisions to be an affront to those women who desperately rely on VAWA for help and protection from their abusers.”

For the complete story, see Friday’s Republic.