16 female senators push NFL on violence
© Getty Images

Sixteen female senators signed a letter Thursday urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to institute a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence.  

They said they are "shocked and disgusted" by the video released this week of former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice punching his now-wife in an elevator in February. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"Tragically, this is not the only case of an NFL player allegedly assaulting a woman even within the last year," they wrote in the letter urging the no-tolerance policy. 

Every female Democratic senator signed on except Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillConservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries Congress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Lobbying world MORE (D-Mo.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE (D-La.). Landrieu is facing a tough reelection race.

Republican Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteSinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race New Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law Schultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid MORE (R-N.H.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (R-Maine) signed the letter, while Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Klobuchar, Murkowski introduce legislation to protect consumer health data MORE (R-Alaska) and Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle Steve King denied seat on Air Force One for Trump trip to Iowa: report MORE (R-Neb.) did not. 

The NFL has suspended Rice indefinitely, reversing course after initially handing down a two-game suspension before the video was released. The Baltimore Ravens cut him and canceled his contract.

In August, the NFL instituted a six-game suspension policy for violent crimes and a full ban after the second offense. But the senators noted a player could petition for reinstatement after a year. 

"We are deeply concerned that the NFL's new policy, announced last month, would allow a player to commit a violent act against a woman and return after a short suspension," they wrote. "If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn't get a second chance to play football in the NFL."

The NFL has tapped former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead an independent investigation into the league’s handling of the Rice incident after questions of when it first obtained the video released publicly this week. A number of lawmakers have piled on criticism this week.  

The White House declined Thursday to comment on the NFL's handling of the situation, or calls for Goodell to resign over his role in the league's response.

"I haven't heard the president comment specifically on the actions or the handling of the situation of the National Football League," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Justin Sink contributed.

— This story was updated at 2:35 p.m.