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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011--Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I am proud to rise today in support of the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. I cosponsored the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) when it was originally enacted in 1994, and have cosponsored every reauthorization since then. The Violence Against Women Act continues to be as important today as it was in 1994. The programs VAWA supports have gone a long way to help stop batterers in their tracks and provide victims with the support they need to recover and rebuild their lives. This reauthorizing legislation builds upon proven prevention and support strategies and includes new provisions to address the changing and still unmet needs of victims.

VAWA has been a success story over the past 18 years because it encourages communities to more effectively and efficiently respond to domestic violence. Working together, law enforcement, judges, domestic violence shelters, victim advocates, healthcare providers, and faith-based advocates are able to better prosecute abusers and protect and aid the women, men and children who find themselves in dangerous and potentially life threatening domestic relationships. Programs authorized by VAWA also provide victims with critical services, including transitional housing and legal assistance, and address the unique issues faced by elderly, rural, and disabled victims. No one should have to choose between staying in a harmful relationship and losing their home or job.

Yet, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 makes needed reforms and changes that will strengthen and streamline existing programs, while also consolidating programs and reducing authorizations to recognize the difficult fiscal situation we face. The bill also incorporates new accountability provisions, to ensure that VAWA funds are used effectively and efficiently. Our bill implements cuts that will save $135 million each year.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Retirement and Aging, we have seen far too many instances of physical, mental, and financial abuse of our nation's seniors. So I thank Senator Leahy for including provisions from my End Abuse in Later Life Act. Those provisions ensure that appropriate enforcement tools are available to combat sexual assault and domestic violence against the elderly, and that older victims receive victim services.

We commend Senator Leahy for his work on this important, bipartisan bill. VAWA reauthorizations passed the Senate unanimously in 2000 and 2005, and I look forward to the long overdue passage of S. 1925 today.

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