A super PAC with close ties to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has accused Senator Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) — whom Democrats view as a vulnerable Republican in 2020 — of failing to serve “the needs of domestic violence victims and those in the most vulnerable communities” after negotiations to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act broke down.
Ernst, who has said she was raped in college and alleged that she suffered abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, had been locked in bipartisan negotiations with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) over reauthorizing the act through 2024, after a bill proposed by Democrats passed the House in April with support from 33 Republicans.
The debate has largely centered on closing the “boyfriend loophole,” which currently allows an unmarried partner to buy and own firearms after a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence. While Ernst argues that retroactively preventing individuals from owning guns would be a violation of due-process rights, Schumer accused Ernst of being “afraid of the NRA.”
Last week, Feinstein dropped work with Ernst and proposed the version of the bill passed in the House, which Ernst pointed out would fail in the Senate. In response, Ernst proposed her own reauthorization of VAWA on Wednesday
“Reauthorizing VAWA shouldn’t be a partisan issue—we should be putting the wellbeing of women and children of sexual and domestic violence first. That’s what this bill does; it’s a practical solution that focuses on survivors, not politics,” Ernst said in a press release. “Our bill will dramatically increase resources for survivors, punish abusers, and provide greater support for our rural communities in Iowa and across the country. I’m optimistic that my colleagues—Republican and Democrat—will join me in getting this vitally important bill signed into law.”
The Senate Majority PAC replied in a tweet that, “Iowans and victims of domestic violence deserve better than Senator Ernst.”
@joniernst is sending a message that she’s not serving the needs of domestic violence victims and those in the most vulnerable communities. Iowans and victims of domestic violence deserve better than Senator Ernst #IASen
— Senate Majority PAC (@MajorityPAC) November 21, 2019
“Chuck Schumer’s decision to put politics ahead of survivors and to attempt to mislead folks when it comes to Joni’s record is disgusting,” Ernst campaign spokeswoman Melissa Deatsch told National Review in a statement. “Iowans know that Joni fights relentlessly for them and she will never stop standing up for her fellow survivors.”
In January, Ernst went public with allegations that she’d been raped in college, after claims that her ex-husband had abused her had been revealed in her divorce proceedings.
“I was embarrassed,” Ernst told Bloomberg. “I didn’t know how to explain it. I was so humiliated. And I’m a private person, when it comes to those things.
The Senate Majority PAC is “solely dedicated to building a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate,” according to its website. JB Poersch, the PAC’s president, has a long history with Schumer — Poersch served as the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2005 to 2010, when Schumer chaired the DSCC.
Ernst fired back at Schumer on Thursday, telling reporters that “I do not need to be mansplained by Chuck Schumer. I am a survivor.”
.@SenSchumer, I know you’re laser-focused on preventing my re-election and turning the Senate blue. But my commonsense VAWA bill is something we should all be behind, regardless of party politics. Let’s put the partisan fights aside and get this done for survivors.
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) November 21, 2019