Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and his challenger, Rep. Connie Mack (R), were asked about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) during a debate on October 17.
Mack recognized the female members of his family and then quickly changed the subject to economic issues, steering clear of domestic abuse. “What women are worried about in this country is jobs and security, and being secure at home and making sure that their children are taken care of, and that they put food on the table,” he said and insisted that he had answered the moderator’s question. Pressed on the bill, however, Mack reluctantly promised to support its reauthorization. Watch it:
Mack’s reluctance to address the measure is reflected in his poor voting record. In May 2012, Mack voted against considering re-authorization the bill, though it received strong bipartisan support in the Senate, and instead supported a watered-down version of the VAWA — proposed by House Republicans — that stripped protections from undocumented, Native American, and LGBT victims of domestic abuse. More than 300 domestic abuse advocacy groups opposed the House bill.
Reauthorizing the VAWA is especially important in Florida, which has been hit harder than most states by the economic crisis and ranks third in the nation in foreclosure rates. The recession has increased incidents of domestic violence, and Florida has seen funding cuts for domestic violence services, forcing shelters to turn away women in need. As the Florida Herald-Tribune writes, “Since September 2008, three of four domestic violence shelters report an increase in women seeking help with an abuser, and 73 percent attribute the increase to ‘financial issues.’”