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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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We begin with Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat.

Senator, thank you for coming on tonight.

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: Good evening.

MATTHEWS: What`s the fight over here on this? Why isn`t this bill, which has passed before, zooming through, especially in this particular political environment?

CANTWELL: That`s what women want to know. They want to know how something that`s been so bipartisan in the past, the Violence Against Women Act, that`s usually passed with great bipartisan support, may not meet its deadline for being reauthorized.

So, after the debate on Planned Parenthood, after the debate on the Blunt amendment, you bet women are saying, what`s going on?

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look. Here`s one of your colleagues on the other side, Jeff Sessions. He`s a member of the Judiciary Committee, a Republican. He`s against the new version of the bill.

He told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years. But there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition.
You think that`s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn`t support, that maybe they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?"

Well, he`s accusing you of putting stuff in the bill which is purposely put in there as a poison pill, so you people will -- well, they will vote against it. They`re -- I totally misstated that. He`s accusing the Democrats of writing a bill Republicans can`t sign on to.

CANTWELL: No, listen, there are provisions in here that are part of this legislation from previous reauthorizations, these issues about making sure women are in the country get protected so they can be part of the prosecution`s case against domestic violence. That`s not something new.

That`s been in the legislation since 2004. So the real issue here is, if we want to move forward and get this done by reauthorize, bring it up on the floor, and if people have opposition, they can express their opposition. But let`s make sure we get it done so law enforcement has a tool, because this is -- we have so many women impacted by this, over a million women a year. Let`s make sure law enforcement has the tools they need.

MATTHEWS: Has there been fraud in the case of the visa aspect of this, the immigration aspect of the bill?

CANTWELL: I have looked at the statistics, and they have denied cases of giving people visas. And, certainly, I think that there are protections in place.

And let`s not forget some of these cases -- and the case of my state of Washington, these were women who were brought into the country on male-order bride organizations...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CANTWELL: ... and then basically find out that the person that brought them into the country for some grand idea of marriage turned out to be -- in one case, the woman was killed.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CANTWELL: So these are protections for prosecution to give these women who are victims the ability to testify in court and to make sure that they are there, as opposed to just letting the violence continue.

MATTHEWS: So it does involve human trafficking, this part of the bill? That`s terrible stuff.

CANTWELL: Right. And you`re bringing up another point. There`s another bill that is caught in the same debate on human trafficking. And we want to see that bill moved too.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Here`s something by the way, I want to thank you very much. We`re going to have another senator on. I want to thank you very much, Senator Cantwell, from Washington state.

CANTWELL: Thank you.

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