Republican Senator Joni Ernst and the top Democrat in the senate are hurling accusations at one another over a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
Ernst accuses New York Senator Chuck Schumer of blocking Democrats from supporting the bill to hurt her bid for re-election. Schumer accuses Ernst of blocking gun-related provisions because she’s afraid of the National Rifle Association.
Ernst was with some of her staffers as she spoke with Iowa reporters today from a booth in Washington, D.C. “I do not need to be mansplained by Chuck Schumer,” Ernst said and a member of her staff yelled: “Woo!”
Ernst continued: “Yeah, I heard that little woo. Thank you very much. I am a survivor. I’m not afraid of anyone, folks. I’ve been through the worst of the worst and I’m here today.”
Ernst and her husband divorced last year and Ernst said this past January that in addition to an abusive spouse, she was raped in college by someone else.
“Going through these situations is already extremely trying for anyone, but having that lifeline of support was so important to me and it helped me find my way through dark and difficult times,” Ernst said. “That’s why this bill, the Violence Against Women Act, has been a priority for me this year.”
The bill passed by Democrats in the U.S. House prohibits people convicted of domestic violence or stalking from owning a firearm. Ernst said the House made that retroactive and she told reporters that’s not what the law said at the time of those convictions — and the move could violate plea agreements of the past.
“That would be someone who was guilty of assault 30, 40 years ago, but has since been, you know, having good behavior,” Ernst said. “…What we can’t do is go back, change the law as it existed in 1975 and expect that is due process. It is not.”
Ernst said she plans to continue working with the top Democrat on a key committee in hopes of coming up with a bipartisan solution to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
(Photo courtesy of Senator Ernst’s office)