Upon his recent visit to Lewiston, the senator spoke about his reasoning behind the controversial decision.
"The Violence Against Women Act," also known as S-47, was continued last week for a re-authorization vote in the Senate, however the issue was picked up again Monday. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, is one of eight Republican Senators who voted last week not to continue the consideration of the bill and has been criticized by some for his stance on the issue. But Risch said it's not so much about the bill itself but more about the rights of the States.
"To have federal police coming in and arresting people and taking people into federal court and charging them with what is a local crime, I have real difficulties with," said Risch.
If passed by the Senate, then subsequently the House of Representatives, the law would protect victims of domestic violence at the federal level. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said cases of domestic violence have gone down by 53% since it originally passed nearly two decades ago. Despite how some have interpreted Risch's initial vote, the Senator from Idaho said he's vehemently against violence of any kind against women and he's got a track record to back it up.
"Violence against women is a despicable crime and I'm one of the few people serving in Congress who've actually put people in prison for violence against women at the start of my career as a prosecuting attorney," said Risch.
However, Risch said that the regulation of the issue should lie in the hands of the state and not the federal government.
"This is a matter for the states," said Risch. "And as far as I'm concerned the states can't get tough enough on violence against women."
Due to inclement weather, some Senators may vote Tuesday on S-47 but it's expected to pass. However the bill re-authorization is expected to create a gridlock in the House of Representatives.
Several new amendments, including protection for LGBT victims, immigrants and Native Americans, could create some difficulty for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in the House of Representatives. Concerns regarding an amendment that would allow non-Native Americans to be tried in tribal court, if they assault someone on sovereign land, might be deemed unconstitutional by the Republican majority House.