Parties Playing to Their Strengths
If you want a nice illustration of political parties playing to their strengths, look no further than the congressional schedule for the forthcoming week.
Senate Democrats are pushing Republicans back on their heels this week with a debate on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
S. 47 would continue programs first created by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. The law increased spending targeted at investigating and prosecuting violent crimes against women, it imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on people convicted of such crimes, and it provided for civil suits when prosecutors decided not to prosecute. VAWA also established the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
As the New York Times reports:
The measure foundered last year on Republican concern over obscure issues like the bill’s inclusion of additional visas for abused illegal immigrants, its treatment of same-sex couples and its strengthening of American Indian courts.
And that debate continues.
Whatever the merits of their arguments, Republicans look bad to average Americans—particularly women—if they are holding up a law aimed at protecting women. Score one for the Democrats.
Over in the House, the Republicans control the schedule, and guess what they’re doing: pushing Democrats’ buttons.
The issue is federal workers’ pay. H.R. 273 plays to Republican constituencies by eliminating a pending pay increase for Federal employees. The pay freeze was put in place by President Obama in 2010, but the freeze is coming to an end.
Freezing federal pay is a good chance for the Republicans to tweak Democrats, and particularly the president, for their insufficient attention to debt and deficits. A vote on the bill in the House will require Democrats to choose between federal employees, which are a Democratic constituency, and a public that isn’t all that fond of what they perceive as remote, well-paid bureaucrats.
When good politics and good policy line up, the Congress can move forward. Most weeks are like this one, though, with the two parties just playing to their strengths.