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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011--Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I appreciate the work the leadership has done, and I know Senator Murray has been very involved with that too, and I appreciate her help in getting us to a point where we now have a unanimous consent to get to votes and we can finally pass this bill.

I think sometimes a bill like this is an abstract matter. It is not an abstract matter to the women's organizations that support it. It is not abstract to law enforcement who support it. And if I might speak personally for a moment, it is not an abstract matter to me.

The distinguished Presiding Officer and I come from probably the safest, lowest crime State in the country, but we both know that crimes do happen. We also know that in a rural State, oftentimes domestic violence is not reported. We don't talk about this outside the family. And I know that in some of those instances, when I had the privilege of serving as a prosecutor in Vermont, they didn't talk about it. I first heard about it usually in the morgue or at the great Fletcher Hospital. I learned about it because when the body was picked up, either the undertaker or the police or the ambulance driver realized this was not a natural cause, and then we would sort of roll the clock back. In rolling the clock back, we found that all these warning signals were there. There was nowhere for the victim to go. The things we now have were not there then.

I was able to prosecute a number of these people. In fact, I probably brought some of the first successful domestic violence prosecutions we had. But police and prosecutors will say that those are always after the fact.

So how do we stop this from happening in the first place? That is what the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act is about. It is there to stop the crime before the crime happens. This bill is based on months of work with survivors, advocates, and law enforcement officers from all across the country, of all political persuasions. I never knew a time when somebody would come to a crime scene and say: Is this victim a Democrat or Republican, gay or straight, immigrant or not? We would say: How do we catch the person who did this?

We listened to what the survivors, advocates, and law enforcement officers told us. They told us what worked, what did not work, and what could be improved. Then we carefully drafted the legislation to fit these needs, and that is why our bill is supported by more than 1,000 Federal, State, and local organizations, service providers, law enforcement, religious organizations, and many more.

There is one purpose, and one purpose only, for the bill Senator Crapo and I introduced and others cosponsored: It is to help and protect victims of domestic and sexual violence. Our legislation represents the voice of millions of survivors and advocates across the country. The same cannot be said with the Republican proposal brought forward in the last couple of days. That is why that proposal is opposed by such a wide spectrum of people and organizations.

Domestic and sexual violence knows no race, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Its victims can be your next door neighbor, your colleague, a fellow church member, or your child's teacher at school. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act seeks to ensure that services to help victims of domestic violence reach all victims, no matter who they are. That is why civil and human rights organizations like the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and End Violence Against Women International have urged Congress to act to reauthorize VAWA. I ask consent that these letters be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

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Mr. LEAHY. These organizations recognize the impact VAWA has in reducing incidences of sexual and domestic violence in our country. Since its initial passage in 1994, no law has done more to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. Because of VAWA, victims have access to life-saving services. It is time that we ensure that all victims have access to these resources.

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, which represents dozens of organizations across the country, says the substitute was drafted without input or consultation from the thousands of professionals engaged in this work every day.

The substitute includes damaging, nonworkable provisions that will harm victims, increase costs, and create unnecessary inefficiencies. I know it may be well-intentioned, but it is no substitute for the months of work we have done in a bipartisan way with the people across the country to bring this bill that is before us. Unfortunately, it undermines the core principles of the Violence Against Women Act. It resolves in abandoning some of the most vulnerable victims and strips out key provisions that are critically necessary to protect all victims, including immigrants, Native women, and victims in same-sex relationships. Again, a victim is a victim is a victim. We don't say: We can help you if you fit in this category. But sorry, battered woman, you are on your own because you fit in the wrong category. That is not the America I know and love.

The improvements in the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act are taken out, and the Republican proposal is no substitute. It does nothing to meet the needs of victims. It undermines the focus of protecting women. It literally calls for removing the word ``women'' from the largest VAWA grant program. They are still victimized at far higher rates and with far greater impact on their lives than men. Shifting this focus away from women is unnecessary and harmful, and it could send a terrible message. There is no reason to turn the Violence Against Women Act inside out, to eliminate the focus on the victims the bill has always been intended to protect.

By contrast, our bipartisan bill does not eliminate the focus against women but increases our focus to include all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

I see others on the floor. I have far more I am going to say about this, and I am about to yield the floor in case others wish to speak.

Remember, this bill is the Violence Against Women Act. Let's not go away from that. It has been carefully put together with the best input we could get from law enforcement, from victims organizations, and, I must say, from some victims themselves.

This is to protect those people. I have seen some crime scenes that I still have nightmares about decades later, and I can guarantee my colleagues that every prosecutor in this country and every police officer in this country who deals with these matters probably have the same kinds of nightmares.

Are we going to stop all violence against women with this act? Of course not. But as a result of having had this legislation in effect for years, the numbers have come down because there is a place to go, there are people to help, and there are people to stop the violence. That is what we want to do--not to be, as I was during those nights in the morgue, saying to the police: Let's find out who did this so we can catch them, but, rather, to stop them before it happens and to protect the people so they live. That is what we are trying to do. That is what this bill does.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, one of the hallmarks of the Violence Against Women Act is the success it has had reducing violence against women across the country. Because we have made much progress over the past 18 years on domestic violence but have had less success with combating sexual assault, our bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill takes important steps to increase the focus on sexual violence. As we were writing this bipartisan legislation, we consulted with the men and women who work with victims every day to develop a consensus bill that will help emphasize the need to further reduce the incidence of sexual assault. The administration and law enforcement groups like the National Association of Attorneys General, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs' Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police understand and support our goals.

Unfortunately, while I do not doubt that Senator Cornyn shares our goals, the amendment he is offering can have the perverse affect of hindering progress on these issues. That is why there will be an amendment offering a better approach and a better way forward together. The alternative to the Cornyn amendment will allow us to make progress on to reduce the backlog in the testing of rape kits and other DNA samples, as I have always supported in the Debbie Smith Act. Accordingly, I will urge all Senators to reject the Cornyn amendment and support the alternative, which will complement the work we are doing by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

I point out that the provisions in the Cornyn amendment are duplicative of provisions in the Republican proposal offered by Senators Hutchison and Grassley. The Senate is already voting on those provisions.

Further, Senator Cornyn, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, did not offer his current amendment when the VAWA reauthorization was considered earlier this year. I offered an amendment on his behalf that the committee adopted on another issue.

Moreover, the separate issue of the Debbie Smith Act is part of a larger effort on which the Judiciary Committee is considering as we move to reauthorize the Justice for All Act that we passed with bipartisan support several years ago. Although we have made reduction of rape kit backlogs an additional use for which VAWA STOP grants funding may be used by State and local jurisdictions, this matter is on a separate legislative track.

I am not insisting or formality in this regard and have worked with other Senators on the alternative amendment that should be helpful to our goal of reducing the rape kit testing backlog. To make sure our work is successful, we will also need to pay careful attention to the standards for testing and the controversies surrounding those matters, however. Moreover, there is a risk of making money available that swamps the capacities for accurate testing. This is not as simply as throwing money at the problem. I have worked and remain hard at work on forensic reforms to ensure that our criminal justice system takes advantage of scientific advancements while remaining fair.

A concern with the Cornyn amendment is its mandating the diversion of 7 percent of Debbie Smith Act funding to create an unwieldy national database of rape kits. The amendment would also compel jurisdictions to undergo a burdensome process of entering information into that database without procedural safeguards to ensure its accuracy. These requirements would force state and local law enforcement to invest time and resources to comply with onerous and illogical reporting requirements and divert their focus from their core law enforcement mission of actually responding to calls and investigating sexual assault cases. It is no wonder that the National Association of Police Organizations opposes the Cornyn amendment.

The amendment also contains a number of criminal sentencing mandates that have no place in our VAWA bill. Victims' advocates like the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women say its provisions ``would have a chilling effect on victim reporting and would not help hold perpetrators accountable.'' Victim advocates tell us that, particularly in cases where the perpetrator is known to the victim, these kinds of mandated sentences can deter victims from reporting the crimes and actually contribute to continuing abuse. Mandatory minimum sentences such as these also worsen prison overcrowding and budget crises at the Federal, State, and local level, and undermine our effective Federal sentencing system. The National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Association to End Sexual Violence, the National Council Against Domestic Violence, and the National Congress of American Indians Task Force oppose these sentencing provisions.

There could be an extended Senate debate about whether mandatory minimums are good policy and the unintended consequence they may have of worsening abuse in domestic violence situations. That would be a long debate with strongly held views. That is not what the Violence Against Women Act is about. We should not complicate passage of this bipartisan measure with such matters beyond the scope and purpose of the bill. Such debates are for another time and other bills.

Our VAWA reauthorization bill should not be seen as a catch-all for all criminal proposals or sentencing mandates. There are other bills and other packages of bills that we are working on and hope to pass this year. Some may come up in the Justice for All Act is we are able to get Senate floor time for that measure. Some have come up on separate bills that are awaiting Republican clearance for Senate passage. Among those are a package of bills including the Strengthening Investigations of Sex Offenders and Missing Children Act, the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act, the Dale Long Public Safety Officers' Benefits Improvements Act, along with Finding Fugitives Sex Offenders Act from which the Cornyn Amendment takes its administrative subpoena provisions.

Let me turn to the Debbie Smith Act and a woman I admire very much. Debbie Smith is a survivor of a terrible crime who had to wait in terror for far too long before evidence was tested and the perpetrator was caught. She has worked tirelessly to make sure that other victims of sexual assault do not have to endure similar ordeals. I have been a proud supporter of the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program since its creation, and I have worked with Senators of both parties, including Senators Mikulski and Hutchison on the Appropriations Committee, to see that it receives as much funding as possible each year. As I noted, although its authorization does not expire until 2014, I included an extension of its reauthorization in the Justice For All Reauthorization Act I introduced earlier this year. The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program has been very successful in reducing evidence backlogs in crime labs, particularly in sexual assault cases. That is why I am glad that the alternative amendment will allow us to ensure that the program is authorized through 2017 at a level of $151 million a year.

Unfortunately, disturbing reports have emerged of continuing backlogs, with some cities finding thousands of untested rape kits on police department shelves. That means that there is more need than ever for the Debbie Smith Act but also that there must be increased emphasis on reducing law enforcement backlogs, where there has been less progress. That is why it is so important that alternative to the Cornyn amendment expands the Debbie Smith Act to allow law enforcement to obtain funding for the collection and processing of DNA evidence. Law enforcement burden is one of the key bottlenecks in the process at present. In contrast to the Cornyn amendment, the alternative calls for new national best practices and protocols for law enforcement handling of rape kits and for Justice Department assistance to law enforcement in addressing this continuing problem. This will help to make real progress in overcoming the last major hurdles in reducing backlogs of rape kits.

The amendment takes steps to ensure that more of the Debbie Smith Act funds are used directly for DNA evidence testing to reduce backlogs. That will make this key program even quicker and more effective in reducing backlogs. The Debbie Smith program is an important tool in the fight against sexual assault, and I hope all Senators will join us in reauthorizing and strengthening it by rejecting the Cornyn amendment in favor of the alternative.

As I have said during this debate, we must do more to reduce sexual assault, and the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill focuses on that goal. I believe that Senator Cornyn's amendment will distract from the progress that is most helpful to victims, despite his good intentions. I urge Senators to vote against the Cornyn amendment and support the alternative to expedite improvements to the Debbie Smith Act to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits and other DNA evidence.

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Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act is based on months of work with survivors, advocates, and law enforcement officers from all across the country.

We listened when they told us what was working and what could be improved. We took their input seriously, and we carefully drafted our legislation to respond to those needs.

Our bill is supported by more than 1,000 Federal, State, and local organizations. They include service providers, law enforcement, religious organizations, and many, many more.

There is one purpose and one purpose only for the bill that Senator Crapo and I introduced, and that is to help and protect victims of domestic and sexual violence. Our legislation represents the voices of millions of survivors and their advocates all over the country.

The same cannot be said for the Republican proposal brought forward in these last couple of days. That is why the Republican proposal is opposed by so many and such a wide spectrum of people and organizations.

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, which represents dozens of organizations from across the country says: ``The Grassley-Hutchison substitute was drafted without input or consultation from the thousands of professionals engaged in this work every day.

The substitute includes damaging and unworkable provisions that will harm victims, increase costs, and create unnecessary inefficiencies.'' Although well-intentioned, the Republican proposal is no substitute for the months of work we have done in a bipartisan way with victims and advocates from all over the country.

I regret to say that the Republican proposal undermines core principles of the Violence Against Women Act. It would result in abandoning some of the most vulnerable victims and strips out key provisions that are critically necessary to protect all victims--including battered immigrants, Native women, and victims in same sex relationships.

The improvements in the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act are gone from the Republican proposal. It is no substitute and does nothing to meet the unmet needs of victims.

The Republican proposal fundamentally undermines VAWA's historic focus on protecting women. It literally calls for removing the word ``women'' from the largest VAWA grant program. Women are still victimized at far higher rates, and with a far greater impact on their lives, than men. Shifting VAWA's focus away from women is unnecessary and harmful.

The Republican proposal would send a terrible message. There is no reason to turn the Violence Against Women Act inside out and eliminate the focus on the victims the bill has always been intended to protect.

Our Leahy-Crapo bipartisan bill, by contrast, does not eliminate the focus on violence against women, but increases our focus to include all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Republican proposal strips out critical protections for gay and lesbian victims. The rate of violence in same sex relationships is the same as the general population, and we know that victims in that community are having difficulty accessing services.

To strip out these critical provisions is to turn our backs on victims of violence. That is not the spirit of VAWA. We understand that a victim is a victim is a victim, and none of them should be excluded or discriminated against.

The Republican proposal would extend and institutionalize that discrimination. The Republican proposal should be rejected.

The Republican proposal also fails to adequately protect Tribal victims. Domestic violence in tribal communities is an epidemic. Four out of five perpetrators of domestic or sexual violence on Tribal lands are non-Indian and currently cannot be prosecuted by tribal governments.

If you need more convincing of this problem, listen to the senior Senator from Washington and the Senators from New Mexico, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii who have spoken so compellingly to the Senate about these concerns and who strongly support the provisions in the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill.

The Republican proposal is no real alternative to fix the jurisdictional loophole that is allowing the domestic and sexual violence against Native women to go undeterred and unremedied. Its proposal offers a false hope, a provision that purports to allow a tribe to petition a Federal court for a protective order to exclude individuals from tribal land. It does not even allow the victim herself to request the order, and it does nothing to ensure that a violent offender is held accountable.

This is a false alternative. It is not what the Justice Department has suggested. It is not what the Indian Affairs Committee has supported. It will do next to nothing and is no answer to the epidemic of violence against Native women.

The Republican proposal also abandons immigrant victims and disregards law enforcement requests for additional U visas, a law enforcement tool that encourages immigrants to report and help prosecute crime. To the contrary, the Republican proposal would add dangerous restrictions on current U visa requirements that could result in that tool being less effective.

The U visa process already has fraud protections. For law enforcement to employ U visas, law enforcement officers must personally certify that the victim is cooperating with a criminal investigation. The new restrictions the Republican proposal seeks to add will discourage victims from coming forward and will hinder law enforcement's ability to take violent criminals off the street.

I will be offering an amendment to offset the minimal additional costs associated with our increasing the number of U visas that can be used. With
that amendment the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill will not ``score'' and will be deficit neutral.

The Republican proposal also would add burdensome, unnecessary and counterproductive requirements that would compromise the ability of service providers to maximize their ability to reach victims. In contrast, the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo accountability provisions ensure the appropriate use of taxpayer dollars without unnecessary regulatory burdens.

It is all the more ironic that the Republican proposal would add massive, new bureaucratic requirements to service providers who are understaffed and operating on shoestring budgets like most small businesses and nonprofits. These requirements are unnecessary and would add significant costs to victim service providers, undercutting their ability to help victims.

It is easy to call for audits, but without proper resources and focus, such demands could be counterproductive and lead to decreased accountability. The bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill, by contrast, includes targeted accountability provisions.

While I have been willing to accommodate improvements to this legislation from day one, I have also been clear that I will not abandon core principles of fairness. Regrettably, that is what the Republican proposal would result in doing. It would undermine the core principle of VAWA to protect victims--all victims--the best way we know how. Our bill is focused on VAWA and improvements to meet the unmet needs of victims.

It is not a catch-all for all proposals for criminal law reform, for sentencing modifications. There are other bills and other packages of bills that we are working on and hope to pass this year. We should not complicate passage of this bipartisan measure with such matters beyond the scope and purpose of the bill. Such debates are for another time and other bills.

I urge all Senators to join together to protect the most vulnerable victims of violence, including battered immigrant women assisting law enforcement, Native American women who suffer in record numbers, and those who have traditionally had trouble accessing services.

A victim is a victim is a victim. They all deserve our attention and the protection and access to services the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill provides.

The path forward is to reject the Republican proposal, which is no alternative to the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill. Let us move forward together to meet the unmet needs of victims.

I would just say that the Leahy-Crapo bill does not eliminate the focus on violence against women; it protects women, unlike the Republican proposal which strips out so many aspects.

Our bill is inclusive. Theirs is exclusive. A victim is a victim is a victim. We do not exclude anybody. As the distinguished Senator from New Hampshire said earlier today: They do not ask who the victim is when there is a victim.

With my remaining time, I yield 2 minutes to the Senator from New Jersey and the remaining time to the Senator from Minnesota, Ms. Klobuchar.

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Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, we are about to vote. This is a time for both Republicans and Democrats to come together and say what we all know in our heart: We oppose violence against women. Let's say it not just in our heart, let's say it in legislation--good legislation.

Have the yeas and nays been ordered?

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Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, we have been able to get very good progress on the rape kit backlogs in the Leahy-Crapo bill. I wish we had passed the Klobuchar amendment. The Cornyn amendment is well intentioned, but it will undermine, rather than enhance, the progress we have made.

The Cornyn amendment will divert funding from the Debbie Smith rape kit backlog reduction program. Let me repeat: It will divert funding from the Debbie Smith rape kit backlog reduction program to create an unwieldy national database of rape kits. It could force State and local law enforcement to invest time and resources to comply with onerous and illogical reporting requirements instead of actually responding to calls and investigating sexual assault cases.

Key victims' groups have opposed it, saying all the things it adds in here--the things we have taken care of to help victims--would actually hurt them. It creates new mandatory minimum penalties that victims' groups say will have the opposite effect of what we want by deterring abused women from reporting violence and sexual assault crimes. And I strongly oppose it.

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Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the reason why so many people across the political spectrum support the Leahy-Crapo bill and the reason they oppose this amendment is it is going to remove the historic emphasis of women in VAWA. The improvements we have made in the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo bill are gone from the Republican proposal. There is only one real Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, and this is not it. It undermines core principles. It abandons some of the most vulnerable victims. It strips key provisions that are critically necessary to protect all victims, including battered immigrants, Native women, and victims of same-sex relationships.

I hope my colleagues will strongly and roundly defeat this alternative. It guts the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.

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Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I wish to commend and thank Senator Klobuchar, Senator Mikulski, Senator Boxer, and Senator Cantwell for their outstanding statements earlier today in support of our bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Their contributions to the bill and their leadership have been essential. They have spoken often and consistently about this legislative priority. They bring their experiences and years of work on these matters to this effort.

I also wish to commend the statements made by Senators from both sides of the aisle yesterday as the Senate began consideration of the bill. I have always enjoyed working with the senior Senator from Texas and recall how we worked together to pass our Amber Alert legislation in record time. As I have said, we have included the Klobuchar-Hutchison provision updating Federal antistalking legislation in our bill from the outset. I appreciate her saying that she ``is going to support'' the Leahy-Crapo bill. Likewise, I have supported giving the Republican proposal a Senate vote, although I have explained why I will vote against it.

I thought the statements by the majority leader, Senator Begich, Senator Udall of New Mexico, Senator Tester, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Schumer, as well as Senator Heller were strong and compelling.

We now have the opportunity to consider our amendment to improve upon the bill. Our amendment continues to focus on protecting victims. By way of our amendment, we can fix a ``scoring'' problem by adding an offset for the measures in the bill that the Congressional Budget Office determined after its technical analysis would result in affecting budget. That amendment should keep the measure budget neutral. We also are pleased to include provisions suggested by Senators Murkowski and Begich to correct the manner in which Alaska is affected by the tribal provisions in the bill. We worked with them on the initial language and are pleased to continue that bipartisan cooperation. These are additional steps we can take to make sure we pass the best possible legislation we can.

It has been a pleasure to work with Senator Crapo over the last many months to reauthorize and improve the Violence Against Women Act. We have been committed to an open, bipartisan process for this legislation from the beginning. This amendment I am offering continues that process and incorporates further important suggestions we have received from both sides of the aisle.

The substitute makes modest changes to the tribal provisions to further protect the rights of defendants. These changes are in response to concerns raised by Senator Kyl and others, and I am happy to make them. The substitute also responds to concerns raised by Senator Murkowski and Senator Begich about the legislation's impact on Alaska Native villages. Again, I am pleased to be able to address those concerns. The bill is stronger for it.

The substitute also incorporates national security protections at the request of Senator Feinstein.

We also add a small fee for applications for diversity visas that will more than cover the modest costs of protecting additional battered immigrants who assist law enforcement. This addition renders the bill deficit neutral and alleviates budget concerns. It, too, makes the legislation stronger.

The amendment strengthens the campus provision of the legislation while responding to concerns that the bill might have inadvertently affected burdens of proof in campus proceedings. I thank Senator Casey for working with us on this aspect of the amendment.

These are very modest changes, but every one reflects our continued commitment to listening to those who work with victims of domestic and sexual violence every day and to working with Senators of both parties to make the legislation stronger. The legislation came to the floor with 61 Senators, including 8 Republicans, as cosponsors. These adjustments should make it even more of a consensus bill.

I have been heartened by the constructive tone of debate on the floor of the Senate and the near universal support for reauthorizing VAWA. Let's continue this consensus, bipartisan process by passing this amendment and then adopting the bill with these improvements. Let's pass this reauthorization. As Congress faces unrelenting criticism for gridlock and dysfunction, our reauthorizing VAWA in a bipartisan way that helps all victims of domestic and sexual violence is an example of the Senate at its best. I hope all Senators will join us in this effort.

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Mr. LEAHY. As we proceed to vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, I look forward to a strong bipartisan vote. I thank the majority leader and the Republican leader for their work to bring us to this point. I commend the Senators from both sides of the aisle who have worked so hard to bring us to this. In particular I thank my partner in this effort, Senator Crapo, and our bipartisan cosponsors. I also commend Senator Murray and Senator Murkowski who have been so instrumental in helping both sides arrive at a fair process for considering amendments and proceeding without unnecessary delays.

The Violence Against Women Act continues to send a powerful message that violence against women is a crime, and it will not be tolerated. It is helping transform the law enforcement response and provide services to victims all across the country. We are right to renew our commitment to the victims who are helped by this critical legislation and to extend a hand to those whose needs have remained unmet.

As we have done in every VAWA authorization, this bill takes steps to improve the law and meet unmet needs. We recognize those victims who we have not yet reached and find ways to help them. This is what we have always done. As I have said many times the past several weeks, a victim is a victim is a victim. We are reaching out to help all victims. I am proud that the legislation Senator Crapo and I introduced seeks to protect all victims--women, children, and men, immigrants and native born, gay and straight, Indian and non-Indian. They all deserve our attention and the protection and access to services our bill provides.

I have said since we started the process of drafting this legislation that the Violence Against Women Act is an example of what the Senate can accomplish when we work together. I have worked hard to make this reauthorization process open and democratic. Senator Crapo and I have requested input from both sides of the aisle, and we have incorporated many changes to this legislation suggested by Republican as well as Democratic Senators.

Our bill is based on months of work with survivors, advocates, and law enforcement officers from all across the country and from all political persuasions. We worked with them to craft a bill that responds to the needs they see in the field. That is why every one of the provisions in the bill has such widespread support. That is why more than 1000 national, State, and local organizations support our bill.

I appreciate the bipartisan support this bill has had from the beginning, and I want to commend our 61 cosponsors. I commend our eight Republicans for their willingness to work across party lines.

I cannot overstate the important role played by Senators Murray, Murkowski, Mikulski, Feinstein, Klobuchar, Boxer, Hagan, Shaheen, Cantwell, Gillibrand, Collins, Snowe, and Ayotte in this process. The work these women Senators have done in shaping the legislation, and supporting it here on the Senate floor, as well as back home in their States, has helped create the urgency needed to get a bill passed. They are among the strongest supporters of our bill, and the bill is better for their efforts. I also appreciate the gracious comments Senator Hutchison made about the Leahy-Crapo bill, and I am encouraged by her now joining with us to pass the bill.

I also want to thank the many members of the Judiciary Committee who helped draft various provisions in the bill. Senators Kohl, Durbin, Schumer, Franken, Klobuchar, Whitehouse, Coons, and Blumenthal offered significant contributions.

The Senate's action today could not have been accomplished without the hard work of many dedicated staffers. I would like to thank in particular Anya McMurray, Noah Bookbinder, Ed Chung, Erica Chabot, Liz Aloi, Matt Smith, Kelsey Kobelt, Tara Magner, Ed Pagano, John Dowd and Bruce Cohen from my staff.

I know the staff of Senator Grassley has put in significant time on this legislation as well. I thank Kolan Davis, Fred Ansell, and Kathy Neubel for their efforts.

I also commend the hardworking Senate floor staff, Tim Mitchell and Trish Engle, and the staffs of other Senators who I know have worked hard on this legislation, including Erik Stegman, Wendy Helgemo, Josh Riley, Ken Flanz, Susan Stoner, Nate Bergerbest, Kristi Williams, Stacy Rich, Mike Spahn, Serena Hoy, Bill Dauster, and Gary Myrick.

Most importantly, I thank the many individuals, organizations, and coalitions that have helped with this effort. I thank the Vermonters who have helped inform me and this legislation, Karen Tronsgard-Scott of the Vermont Network to End Domestic and Sexual Violence and Jane Van Buren with Women Helping Battered Women. And I thank all those involved with the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, Break the Cycle, Casa de Esperanza, Futures Without Violence, Jewish Women International, Legal Momentum, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Center for Victims of Crime, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, National Congress of American Indians Taskforce on Violence Against Women, National Council of Jewish Women, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, SCESA, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Resource Sharing Project of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, YWCA USA, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, NAACP, Mayors of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, the National Sheriff's Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, FLEOA, National Center for State Courts, National Association of Attorneys General, National Association of Women Judges, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Faith Groups, and so many more for their focus on the victims and their unmet needs.

This is an example of what the Senate can do when we put aside rhetoric and partisanship. I believe that if Senators, Members of the House, Americans from across the country take an honest look at the provisions in our bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill, they will find them to be commonsense measures that we all can support. Sixty-one Senators have already reached this conclusion. I hope more will join us and the Senate can promptly pass and Congress can promptly enact the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

I thank the bipartisan coalition that has come together on this. Most importantly, the coalition across the political spectrum that is so opposed to violence against women will thank us for passing this bill.

I ask for the yeas and nays.

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