The Rachel Maddow Show | May 16, 2012
>>> but we begin tonight with this. the woman of your dreams just may have a russian accent . don't take it from me, take it from this male order bride website. i thought people would think i was looking at porn. technically, this is not porn. this is the website for a marriage service. see, it says so right there above the lady with the bra straps falling down and the lady in the red, white, and blue bikini. is that some sort of bikini yoga? we think of the mail order bride industry as a relic of the past, but the industry still not only exists, it has been updated for the computer age . you don't pick your bride out from the back of a magazine or a catalog now, now you pick her out online. this service, encounters international, specifically markets russian ladies. they say russian women are no longer the best-kept secret of the cold war . they advertise to american men who may want to marry these women and allow them to emigrate to this country. they advertise that russian women , quote, have a different outlook on life and marriage. they are less materialistic than air american counterparts and more family oriented. as wives, they desire to build a loving home, follow their husband's lead, and stick with the marriage, even when times get tough and things stop being fun. i'm not sure exactly by "when things stop being fun," but one of the worrying aspects of the whole mail order bride phenomenon, not just now, but always, is that a woman who emigrates to the united states using a service like this can end up dependent for her immigration status in this country on the american man to whom she has just been married for a fee. and if that man starts beating her up, a woman can kind of be trapped. you don't want to stay with the abusive guy who bought her hand on the internet, but if she leaves, she may get forted. that's the choice, stay with the man who's beating you or get deported. to help women out of that disgusting and dangerous trap, there is a program by which women who are being abused and whose immigration status depends on being married to their abuser, those women can in a low-key way without tipping off the guy who is beating them, they can apply for legal immigration status in this country that's unconnected to the abusive husband . it is a special visa program under the violence against women act . republicans in washington are right to roll that back. the violence against women act was first passed almost 20 years ago. when he was in the senate, vice president joe biden wrote the original bill. it passed with bipartisan support. the act was reauthorized in the year 2000 , reauthorized again in 2005 . it has never been a particularly controversial thing, until now. republicans in the senate initially voted it down this year on a party line vote. they gave it zero votes in committee. it finally did pass the full senate on a 68-31 vote. all 31 no votes there were all male republican senators. all the republican women in the senate voted for it, but 31 men voted no. but now it's over in the house . and house republicans are not for it. they introduced a republican counterproposal that undoes big portions of the violence against women act . their changes, for example, would take away the anonymity from their special visa program for beaten women , thereby advancing the important public policy goal of alerting the abusive husbands of mail order brides if the woman they're beating is trying to get away there them. why has the violence against women act turned into this? why have the politics around this issue turned so much this year? after being such a such a non-controversial thing for decades. it's because the right wing of the right wing decided this year they're going to make an issue out of it. this is a letter signed by the family research council , by the eagle forum , by liberty council, which is affiliated with the jerry folwell university, also the traditional values coalition. this is them writing to congress to say, don't reauthorize if violence against women act . one of the signatories to this letter is a former vice chair of the north carolina republican party , who himself has a felony domestic violence conviction on his record. he got a suspended sentence of 18 months in prison after admitting to beating his wife into the hospital, breaking her nose, breaking her toes, breaking a piece of furniture over her back. police found his wife in the couple's home on christmas day , bleeding from the face and suffering from other injuries. he pled guilty to felony aggravated assault in that case. he is now one of the signatories to the vote against the violence against women act letter, right? it's a letter signed by him and by all those groups that have the word "values" in their names. one of the other signatories in this coalition that seems to have persuaded republicans to be against the violence against women act this year is a group called s.a.v.e., a group based in rockville, maryland. they have been lobbying house republicans to oppose the violence against women act this year. they've been lobbying specifically to roll back some of the protections for immigrant women . the treasurer of that group, s.a.v.e., that's lobbying to get rid of the advisory rule that would help mail order brides , one of the treasurers of that group is the founder of this thing that everybody thought was porn on my website all day today. the russian mail order bride company. which again promises that these women will follow their husband's lead and stick with the marriage, even when times get tough. and just think how much tougher you can make those times if she knows that not sticking with the marriage means she gets deported back to russia. so, yeah, the whole republicans have a war on women thing, this is the sort of thing that has given rise to that sentiment, that republicans have a war on women . this is how you earn a political epithet like that. for what it's earth, democrats have been fighting like heck on this issue. president obama has personally brought this issue up multiple times in recent weeks. the president all but promising to veto the republican's rollback of the violence against women a act, which passed the house today. vice president biden has brought the issue up multiple times. he, of course, wrote the first violence against women act . one of the president's top advisers, valerie jarrett, has an op-ed out on issue today. nancy pelosi has been front paging this issue in her position as the democrat's leader in the house . and today at a press conference on capitol hill , a wisconsin democratic congresswoman named gwen moore went all out, not just on the legislation, but on what in her personal experience has convinced her that the violence against women act is so important.
>> you know, one experience that i had to occurred to me, i thought of this morning was a time when i took a ride with a guy i thought was a friend to go get some fried chicken . and he decided to take a detour behind some buildings to rape me and choke me almost to death. i was sort of seeing that little light that you often hear about. as a woman of color, i am particularly aggrieved that this bill ignores the special circumstances of women who are minorities. women who are in the shadows. stop playing games with the lives of women ! this is yet another -- they don't want to hear us talk about it being a war on women , but this is a direct assault on women 's lives. three women a day die from victimization. and i would implore my colleagues to stop playing games.
>> the house voted on and passed the republican rollback of the violence against women act today. passed it on a nearly party line vote. so that was today in this crazy war on women idea that has no basis in reality. you want to know what republicans are going to do tomorrow to earn that epithet all over again? tomorrow republicans are focusing on washington , d.c. , which, as you know s, is the seat of our nation's capital, and its own city. d.c. as mayor, a city council , but it is not a state and it is not part of any state, and therefore congress as a federal entity plays this weirdly local role in what the city of washington , d.c. can do with its own business. as such, d.c. often bears the brunt of whatever is in political fashion for members of congress that year. they tend to take their highest priority partisan issues at the federal level and impose them on the district of columbia against d.c. 's will. republicans are in control of the house right now, and what's the majority for republicans this year? what's the issue they are more focused on making policy about that anything else across the country? that would be the issue of abortion. abortion rights . trent franks , he represents arizona , has divided in his infinite arizona wisdom, has decided he should decide whether or not you can get a abortion if you live in washington , d.c. house republicans insisted last year as part of the national bug that washington , d.c. be blocked as a city from using any oifts own city funds to subsidize any abortion services. not federal money, but the city's own money, they're not allowed to decide what to do with it. congress is likely this year to force a ban on local funding for abortion as a condition of d.c. getting some say in its own budget. and now republican congressman trent franks has a standalone bill. why should a guy from arizona be legislating what's happening in this little city that's between maryland and virginia? jobs, jobs, jobs. i have no idea why trent franks think he was sent to congress to impose on a city rules they don't want. but he seem v. can confident in it. he's not allowing the member of congress who represents washington , d.c. to have a say in this matter. actually, she's not allowed to vote, so she definitely doesn't get to have a say in this matter, but he won't even let her comment on it. he won't even allow her to be heard. trent franks , republican congressman from arizona s, is holding a hearing on his anti-abortion bill that targets d.c. tomorrow. the representative from d.c. , eleanor holmes norton has asked to speak at that hearing, since it is a hearing only about her city, the answer from house republicans is, no, it is about washington , d.c. , but the views of the representative from d.c. is not welcome. joining us now, congresswoman eleanor holmes norton from washington , d.c. thank you very much to be here. appreciate your time. you asked to be allowed to hear to testify at this hearing on a bill that specifically targeting your district and you were refused. is there precedent for allowing a member from an opposing market to speak on legislation that affects his or her district ?
>> abundant precedent. rachel , when there is a bill, a bill affecting a country, but you want to speak on the bill, perhaps you were a cosponsor, maybe one of ten cosponsors, you get to speak on the bill for any of the really relevant witnesses do. here you have a bill that affects only my district , in other districts in the united states , which signals out the residents of the district of columbia and say you women will not be subject to the constitutional mandate of roe versus wade . you alone can have an abortion only until 20 weeks. by the way, don't talk to us about how this violates the 14th amendment as well, which treats you differently from women in other states. not only are we going to try to impose that on you, but we don't want to hear from the only voice you have in the house , you have no voice in the senate, we shut her up, so we don't hear from d.c. residents at all. fortunately, we do have a young woman who has gone through this experience who has a very relevant story to show. but nobody who can speak for, who has been elected by the representatives of the district ofya columbia, an all-male panel will hear why they should have their roe versus wade with rights discussed tomorrow.
>> in this case, he's specifically going after d.c. , but he has pushed anti-abortion legislation every time he has the opportunity. why do you think something targeting your district , targeting washington , d.c. , is important to republicans this year? important to somebody who has this as a national agenda?
>> rachel , we pointed out to him that his own district allow eed abortions after 20 weeks, so he quickly got somebody to introduce a bill there. i don't know if it's passed yet. but there's one and only one reason why he targets the district of columbia . it's such a principled matter, rachel . why wouldn't he want this principle to apply to every district in the united states ? this is a straight-out cowardly case of bullying. because the congress has somewhat more jurisdiction over the district than others, because he doesn't have the nerve to try to paste this on the united states of america , he's trying to make it his ideological point by going, like a big bully , at the only residents who don't have a voting member -- yes, i vote in committee, but no final vote, is no senators to protect the district . that's why he's doing it. a straight-up gang-up on the most disempowered district in the united states of america . but let me tell you something about us, we know how to fight back.
>> eleanor holmes norton , democrat from washington , d.c. , i have absolutely no doubt about that last point you just made. thank you very much for talking to us tonight and good luck tomorrow.
>> thank you, rachel .
>> thank you.
>>> all right, still ahead, jane lynch is here tonight. als also, richard engel is here