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Mr. BROWN of Massachusetts. Mr. President, I enjoyed the preceding presentation by the Senators dealing with issues surrounding health care. I think it is a very relevant discussion we need to all pay attention to.
I want to talk on two issues today. I will start first with the crowdfunding amendment that has been offered by Senators Bennet, Merkley, and me--something we have been working on in a truly bipartisan manner, as it should be done here, and as I do many of my actions.
For those of you who may be listening either up in the gallery or on television, crowdfunding is an opportunity for individuals to invest money upwards of $1,000, upwards of $1 million total--so $1,000 per person, totaling $1 million--not dealing with a lot of the traditional SEC filings that are in place and a lot of the other problems in which only very wealthy people in years past have been able to participate in these types of offerings.
For example, right now, if I had a good idea, and I wanted some of my friends to invest in it, and then we go and start marketing, we could not do that. That is illegal. One of the President's objectives in his jobs speech was to talk about these new opportunities, and crowdfunding is one of them. He supports it. The House has done a similar crowdfunding bill. We are actually taking this crowdfunding opportunity and putting a little bit more safeguard in it.
I think our bill is different--well, I know our bill is different than the House bill in that the House bill does not require that you actually are a legal business or even some kind of incorporated legal forum before you try to issue stock. That bothers me somewhat in that you could have somebody in their living room taking people's money and issuing stock with no check and balance, and I think that is important.
It also does not require that you offer securities through an intermediary. You could put up your own Twitter site: Buy shares is my great idea. Come on and buy shares.
All the experts agree that we would need to require an intermediary, say, like an eBay, where the crowd can help identify the good and bad players, the way that eBay uses identified bad sellers on their site.
But also, as I said, it allows investments to take place that cannot be done right now, and allows those entities, those groups, to take that money and either use it as the investment seed money to create those new ideas and new jobs--as we know, startup businesses are the entities that are actually looking to create jobs at this point--and/or use that money as seed money to go to a more traditional lender and say: Hey, we have a great idea and we also have some money to back it up, and we would ask you to sign on with us.
I am hopeful the amendment comes up. I understand it is. I am looking forward to having that very important vote. I would appreciate, obviously, the Presiding Officer and everyone else giving strong consideration to that.
Mr. President, I wish to shift gears for a minute and talk about the Violence Against Women Act. As we know--you may not know--Jessica Pripstein of Easthampton, Lisa Stilkey of Douglas, Belinda Torres of Worcester, Kristin Broderick of Haverill, Patricia Frois of Marshfield, Edinalva Viera of Brighton, Milka Rivera of Lawrence, Nazish Noorani of East Boston, Casey Taylor of Winthrop, Alessa Castellon of Roslindale, Lauren Astley of Wayland, Michael Trusty of Edgartown, Janice Santos of Worcester, Beth Spartichino of Easton, Son Tran of Lowell, Jettie Lincoln of Plymouth, David Walton of Tauton, Elaine McCall of Wakefield, Jennifer Freudenthal of Webster, Brian Bergeron of Malden, Lancelot Reid of Dorchester, Joel Echols of Springfield, Maria Avelina Palaguachi-Cela of Brockton, Troy Burston of Medford, Joseph Scott of Worcester, and Aderito Cardoso of Brockton--are constituents of mine who have been killed by their husbands, wives, partners, girlfriends, or boyfriends in domestic violence incidents in 2011 and 2012 alone, and it is only March of this year.
It is unacceptable. The loss of those lives is tragic. But in addition to the people who have lost their lives, the lives of the victims' children, families, and friends have been destroyed. I know because I was a victim of domestic violence. As a child, I watched as my mother was beaten by abusive stepfathers. I did what I could to protect my mom and my sister, but as a young boy there was only so much I could do.
I remember vividly being a 6-year-old boy going to protect my mom and getting beaten on until the police came. It is something that still lives with me, and I try to use that experience and knowledge to help in many different ways.
When I was growing up, quite frankly, there were not the resources that are available to victims today. I wish my mother had known back then that she was not alone. I wish she could have used one of the fantastic support providers that now exist in Massachusetts today. Since being elected to the Senate, I have been moved by the organizations in my State that are stepping to the plate--and continuously step to the plate each and every day--to provide support to victims of domestic violence.
Quite frankly, as a government, we have made tremendous progress in helping victims get their lives back in order--not only the victims themselves but the family members of those victims.
The Violence Against Women Act was first signed into law in 1994, as you know, and made a bold statement that we would redouble our efforts to support law enforcement efforts to crack down on offenders and assist those working in our communities to provide assistance to victims seeking a new life away from the violence they had been subjected to.
In each reauthorization we have improved upon the previous bill and made it stronger and made stronger commitments to those who have been abused. Now is not the time--let me repeat: now is not the time--to take our foot off the gas and avoid dealing with this problem.
The landmark Violence Against Women Act must be reauthorized this year. I am incredibly proud to have cosponsored this reauthorization when it first came to my attention. I believe it makes critical commitments against this horrific problem.
Historically, VAWA has been a bipartisan effort, where both parties locked arms in support of our enforcement and victims against perpetrators of domestic violence. It was a glimmer of hope for an otherwise contentious and overly partisan atmosphere. I have to tell you--this is not the first time I have said this--but there is no Democratic bill that is going to pass, there is no Republican bill that is going to pass, for those listening. It needs to be a bipartisan, bicameral bill that the President will sign.
I have been deeply troubled to see that this year's reauthorization has become, once again, partisan. There is no reason for it. There is no excuse for it. We just did the Hire a Hero veterans bill, we did the 3-percent withholding, we are doing the insider trading, we did the highway bill. There is no reason we cannot do the VAWA bill on a completely nonpartisan basis.
I am on the floor today to call on my colleagues to band together and pass this reauthorization and send a very strong signal to Americans that the Senate--yes, the Senate--stands united in recognizing victims from across the country, to give them the help they need and, obviously, deserve.
In Massachusetts, VAWA is supported by law enforcement and many service providers that are on the front lines in assisting domestic violence victims. I know. Previously, as an attorney, I dealt with family law matters. I know of the yeoman's work these entities do.
On Friday, I will be visiting Voices Against Violence in Framingham, MA. They receive VAWA funding to support direct services to victims and survivors of sexual assault and ensure that a trained rape crisis counselor is available after hours and on weekends.
The YMCA in central Massachusetts in Worcester uses those funds for a proactive program that has service providers working very closely with law enforcement to provide information to domestic violence victims and advocate on their behalf--at a time when, quite frankly, these folks need advocates.
Because of VAWA, REACH Beyond Abuse in Waltham has supported many cutting-edge prevention efforts with teens and the placement of advocates in police departments as a symbiotic, a give-and-take relationship in those departments.
The Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Newburyport, where my dad lives, used VAWA funds to establish a high-risk homicide prevention project and was recently recognized by the White House for their work.
I could go on and on and on about the tremendous involvement and great organizations not only in my State but throughout this country that are making a difference in the lives of victims. We need to stand as a body and not get into party rhetoric, and declare to women across America that they are not alone in this fight. We need to do everything in our power to help the millions of women like my mom who were once in this situation and are now survivors. And we need to help them become survivors, not victims. So I call upon my colleagues to join me in sending a very strong bipartisan vote and get this done.
Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, some time ago, I was reading a book about the beginnings of the interstate highway system in our country. I came across a paragraph when the highway builders and the Federal Government were going to run the interstate highway through some stable middle-class, working-class neighborhoods of Baltimore. The highway administration was greeted by an organizer who, on behalf of citizens of this neighborhood, said this is not the place to put this highway. She was successful in convincing them that the highway should go elsewhere so it would not be disruptive of so many homes, well-established small businesses, and the cohesive community in that part of Baltimore. The woman who led that effort several decades ago was Barbara Mikulski. She was not yet on the city council. She was a citizen who spoke for her neighbors and has continued to do that as a member of the city council and then as a Member of the House of Representatives and for many years--3 1/2 decades--of the Senate.
We heard Senator Reid and others earlier today talk about Senator Mikulski being the first female Democrat to serve in both the House and Senate--to be elected to the Senate without succeeding a husband or a father and first to chair an Appropriations subcommittee. Most important, she helped to blaze this path. In 1987, there were only two female Senators. One was the daughter of a Presidential nominee a generation earlier, and the other was Barbara Mikulski. Today, there are 17 female Members of the Senate. It doesn't look like America yet. There is not anything close to the number of minority members as a percentage of the population, but I hope that changes. I think it will. It doesn't come close to representing the gender makeup of our society. But to go from 2 female Senators, when she first came, to 17 today--and if I can predict elections, which none of us can, and we certainly cannot try--I think there is a good chance there will be a number of additional women in this body this time next year.
I wish to say a couple more things about Senator Mikulski on a less serious note. I have been privileged to serve on two committees with Senator Mikulski--one being the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. During the health care legislation, she was so helpful to so many of the causes we care about and to justice in this country, and on the Appropriations Committee, where she cuts a wide swathe of involvement for Maryland and this country, she champions women's health and many talked about this earlier. She cares so much about the National Institutes of Health, not just because it is located in Maryland but because it matters so much for scientific research, for curing a whole host of diseases and preventing diseases, and the number of jobs NIH creates, not just government jobs but the jobs that come out of commercialization of scientific research.
My State is one of the leaders; whether the jobs come out of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Southwest Hospital, and where Case Western Reserve University is and its medical center around Cleveland, we see that kind commercialization.
I often call her Coach B because she is someone who has been around here a long time and is always willing to advise newer and younger Members. She has been following, especially in my State, what is important, the issue of health care. My State has some of the leading health care institutions in America. Also, what she has done with the space program--the only NASA facility north of the Mason-Dixon line is in Cleveland, with a satellite in Sandusky, NASA Glenn, named after former Senator and astronaut, John Glenn. She has been one of the strongest advocates for the space program, and science, technology, and R&D. She has been particularly helpful to me as I fight for the kind of work NASA Glenn does in Cleveland, and I am appreciative of her for that.
I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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