GOP obstruction in Washington, DC is making it harder to catch rapists and that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will not discuss why he is blocking the appropriations bill that includes funding for rape kits, the samples of DNA evidence that are taken after a sexual assault and used to identify assailants.
Since June, Senate Republicans have held up a $180 billion appropriations bill that would the departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and Justice.
Part of the funding allotted for the DoJ is supposed to go toward a $41 million grant that helps go after rapists by paying states and localities to process backlogs of rape kits, the samples of DNA evidence that are taken after a sexual assault and used to identify assailants.
There are over 100,000 untested kits waiting to be processed at crime labs and police departments around the country, partly because local jurisdictions don’t have enough money to test them.
The kits can go untested for decades, allowing countless rapists off the hook.
Senate Republicans want to add several unrelated amendments to the legislation, such as one that would make it harder to regulate coal-fired power plants or another to restrict subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
McConnell repeatedly dodged questions about whether he and fellow Republicans would be willing to vote for the spending bill, including the $41 million in funding to process rape kit backlogs, without attaching politically charged riders.
McConnell spoke with Debbie Smith in Louisville at the Kentucky State Police Lab, urging the reauthorization of legislation bearing her name that devotes federal funds to tackle the nation’s massive rape kit backlog.
The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Act, first passed in 2004, has little to no opposition in Congress but is set to expire at the end of September.
McConnell deflected and dodged when reporter Joe Gerth asked if he would pull his pollution amendment in order for the rape kit backlog funds to proceed.
“When Insider Louisville asked McConnell why the Senate is unable to vote on or pass the Justice for All reauthorization, he stretched his own credibility by blaming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has tried to call for a vote on the legislation for months, only to be blocked by Senate Republicans,” reported Insider Louisville, a local news website.
On March 3, 1989, a man wearing a ski mask entered Smith’s Williamsburg, Virginia, home with a gun, dragged her into the woods, blindfolded her and raped her repeatedly over the next hour.
DNA evidence was collected that day but the rape kit that was not tested until 1994, and the following year it enabled the identification of her attacker, Norman Jimmerson, who was sentenced to 161 years in prison under the three strikes law.
The House voted on April 7, 2014 to pass the bill to reauthorize funding for sexual assault forensic exam program grants, and appropriate $968 million over the 2015-2019 period.
In 2013, Republicans voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a law many of them dad supported previously.
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