As the House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Thursday, defusing a damaging political issue for the GOP even as most of the party stood opposed, a group of vulnerable Republicans had a unanimous message for observers: We're not like the rest of them.
Every single voting House Republican from a district President Obama won last November supported the bill, while nearly two-thirds of the whole Republican conference voted no. Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., was absent, but his other 15 colleagues from Obama territory all voted yes. GOP Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Peter King of New York, who represent the two districts Romney won most narrowly, also voted for the VAWA reauthorization.
A larger, overlapping group of 40 House Republicans represent districts Obama won in 2008 supported the bill at a high rate. Just nine members from 2008 Obama districts voted against Thursday's bill, while 29 voted for it. (Two members, Miller and Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., were absent.) Fully one-third of the GOP support for the measure came from the 17 percent of Republicans in districts Obama carried four years ago.
The Violence Against Women Act passed the House Thursday, 286-138, but just 87 GOP members joined with Democrats to approve it. The GOP yes votes included members of all stripes from Obama districts, from Rep. Chris Gibson, the New Yorker rated as the most liberal Republican in the House in National Journal's 2012 vote ratings, to Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who has moderated on several issues this year, including immigration, after narrowly winning reelection in a new swing district. Coffman's predecessor in the old, more conservative Colorado 6th District, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, was one of just four members to vote against the Violence Against Women Act the last time it was reauthorized, in 2005.
Since the Senate passed its bill several weeks ago, Democrats had hammered at House Republicans for stalling a vote on reauthorizing the act. Republicans had hoped to take out provisions specifying additional protections for Native Americans and other groups, but House leadership relented and brought the bill to the floor, even without a majority of the Republican conference behind it. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned fellow Republicans not to block a vote on the measure, even though he ended up voting no.
House Democrats supported the bill unanimously. (Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas, was absent and did not vote.)
Here are the 16 House Republicans from districts Obama carried in 2012:
Reps. Jeff Denham, David Valadao, and Gary Miller of California
Mike Coffman of Colorado
Bill Young and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida
Tom Latham of Iowa
John Kline and Erik Paulsen of Minnesota
Joe Heck of Nevada
Frank LoBiondo and Jon Runyan of New Jersey
Michael Grimm and Christopher Gibson of New York
Scott Rigell of Virginia
Dave Reichert of Washington