Huffington Post, May 21, 2012 by Laura Bassett
After repeatedly being accused of participating in a legislative “war on women,” Republican women in the House of Representatives announced Monday that they’re forming a new caucus dedicated to raising their profile as female lawmakers and presenting a “unified voice” on issues that affect women.
The Women’s Policy Committee includes all 24 GOP women in the House, and will be chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.). Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) will serve as vice chairmen.
“When I am back home visiting with women in my district, the number one concern I hear is that the uncertainty in Washington about regulation, litigation and taxation is hindering their ability to innovate and create jobs,” said Blackburn in a statement. “The Women’s Policy Committee was formed with the idea of better educating Members on the issues that impact women on a daily basis, whether they be mothers, daughters, or small business owners. I am honored to have been selected as a Vice Chair of this distinguished group of Republican women and look forward to our work ahead.”
Women’s advocacy groups have repeatedly criticized House Republicans for their positions on various policy issues since the 2010 elections, including reproductive rights, contraception coverage, Planned Parenthood funding, and the Violence Against Women Act. Politico reported last week that House GOP leadership quietly tried to coax key women’s groups, including the National Organization for Women, into supporting its version of VAWA, which stripped protections for LGBT victims and undocumented immigrant women. That effort failed.
Now, House Democrats are focusing on Republicans’ failure to support equal pay legislation.
“If the Republicans’ new Women’s Policy Committee was remotely interested in advancing issues important to America’s women, a top priority for this group would be the Paycheck Fairness Act,” Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told HuffPost. “Currently, not a single member of this group has agreed to cosponsor this legislation, which would prevent, regulate and reduce pay discrimination for women across the country.”