Today in the War on Agency

[Content Note; Sexual violence.]

Erika Eichelberger at Mother Jones: House Republicans Derail Bill Targeting Rapists. Of course they did. Because apparently the Republican Party—which has sought to redefine the federal definition of rape, and is (Santorum) full of (Akin) contemptible (Walsh) rape (Mourdock) apologists (Koster)—thinks rapists are a cool new constituency or something. Anyway:
[A]s the 112th Congress was hurriedly finishing up its business in the past few days, House Republicans yet again played politics with rape and sabotaged a bipartisan bill that would have made it easier to track down rapists.

The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry Act, also known as the SAFER Act of 2012, was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in the Senate in May, and by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) in the House in December. It would have reallocated $117 million to help make a dent in the nationwide backlog of untested "rape kits," which contain forensic evidence collected after sexual assaults that can help identify perpetrators. There are some 400,000 untested kits sitting in labs around the country. As long as this DNA evidence goes unanalyzed, it's easier for rapists to avoid arrest and prosecution.

...The legislation would have required at least 75 percent of federal grants already allocated for rape kit testing to actually be used for that purpose, or to increase law enforcement agencies' capacity to process the kits.
The legislation, introduced by Republicans and garnering biparisan support, was killed when Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) raised privacy concerns, which the Senate immediately worked to address, then Smith's committee amended the bill in a different way —removing language that "would have specifically authorized not just forensic labs, but law enforcement agencies, to receive grant money to help process rape kits"—making the House version different from the Senate version with no time left in session to reconcile the bills.
And so, with his unreconciled version, Smith essentially killed the bipartisan bill.

If the House had passed the Senate version of the bill, the law could have squeaked in under the wire and been signed by President Obama. Smith's office did not respond to a request for comment on why the bill was amended.
Sure. It probably takes time to craft "My concerns about privacy were only a mendacious ruse to stall the bill from passing at all, not because I actually give a fuck about victims' privacy, and so I had to find another way to tank the bill when the Senate effectively and promptly addressed the privacy issue" into something that doesn't sound like Smith is a garbage nightmare.

Ugh, this party. Ugh.

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