Monday, May 28, 2012

Former GOP Congresswomen Criticize Women's Policy Committee

In interviews with Think Progress, two moderate former Republican Congresswomen have criticized their party's new Women's Policy Committee, whose members have compiled anti-women voting records. Former Rep. Claudine Schneider (left), who represented Rhode Island from 1981 to 1991, spoke of the role that fear plays in motivating committee members to vote against women's interests:

THINKPROGRESS: Why do you think today’s Republican Congresswomen are so much less progressive on issues relating to women’s health and safety?

SCHNEIDER: Because they are afraid of losing in the primaries. They have drunk the Kool-Aid that makes them think it is more important to win than to do what is right by ending discrimination. The conservatives have co-opted the primaries and in order to win, they appear to do whatever it will take. Clearly, based on [the voting records of the 24 current Republican Congresswomen], they are NOT voting in the best interest of all women and men, because when women lose (on fair pay, etc.) families lose!

Former Rep. Connie Morella (left), who represented Maryland's 8th District from 1987 to 2003, also spoke about fear as a motivator, along with the need to put up a front to counter the Republican war on women. She suggests that the strategy may backfire:

MORELLA: I’ve always said that when you look at Congress, you had more bipartisanship with Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. The number of issues has gotten smaller…  I was the prime sponsor in 2000 of the Violence Against Women Act, when it was reauthorized… On the floor, there was hardly a vote against it. And now, I don’t know why these women have been cornered, so to speak. Maybe they are motivated by the fact that this is an election year — and in a presidential election particularly, they want to act to counter the concept of the War on Women. That’s why they’re coming up with their own caucus, I suppose. I’ve always felt [the women's caucus] needed to be bipartisan… I think it’s a defensive attempt on the part of this caucus, because they’re concerned... Women are a majority of the voting bloc. If they sense that some of the equities they worked so hard for are being taken away, you’ll see a backlash.

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