Both Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DesJarlais voted against final legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act Thursday.
The bill, approved in a 286-138 vote, will provide funding for programs and investigation of violent crimes against women. Along with Fleischmann and DesJarlais, every Republican member of the Tennessee delegation opposed the bill, including Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn.
Both Fleischmann and DesJarlais supported a House version of the bill in an earlier vote Friday, but the measure ultimately failed.
Instead, House members voted on a Senate version of the bill, which was approved two weeks earlier.
The Senate version includes provisions to extend authority to tribal courts for prosecuting non-native Americans in cases of domestic crime against women on Native American reservations, as well as a provision to extend protective measures to gay and lesbian victims of domestic abuse.
A spokesman for Fleischmann said the congressman could not support the final bill because he thought the provision granting authority to tribal courts was not in line with the Constitution.
“Ensuring the safety and protection of our women is of utmost importance," Tyler Threadgill, press secretary for Fleischmann, said in an emailed statement. "While the Congressman supports the general intent of this bill, as with every vote, he looked to the Constitution. There is a clear constitutional violation in the tribal court provision. Congressman Fleischmann voted in favor of the amendment, which would have alleviated this constitutional conflict; however, without its inclusion, he could not support final passage.“
In an emailed statement, DesJarlais said he proudly supported the House version of the bill but did not give a clear reason for opposing the final version.
“Today, I was proud to vote in favor of the House-amended version of the Violence Against Women Act," DesJarlais said. "This legislation would have ensured that the necessary resources were available to assist victims of violence.”
Two weeks ago, both Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker voted in favor of the Senate bill. The bill now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama.
The Violence Against Women Act was first introduced in 1994 and has been renewed by Congress multiple times in the years since. A vote to extend the bill had not taken place since 2011.
The measure will allot a total of $659 million over five years for initiatives outlined in the act.
According to The Washington Post, the Violence Against Women Act has been credited with helping reduce the number of domestic cases reported.