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Public Statements

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 -- Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise, as do my Democratic colleagues and quite a few of my Republican colleagues, in support of the Violence Against Women Act.

My remarks will extend beyond the time we have left, so I will ask the Chair to advise me when 2 minutes have passed, and I will try to conclude over a 3-minute timeframe so other colleagues can speak on this very important piece of legislation.

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, the Violence Against Women Act--known as VAWA--has been in effect for 18 years and it has saved lives and strengthened families all over the country. I speak as a Coloradoan, and I will cite statistics that will point to the concrete effects the Violence Against Women Act has had in my State.

This was a landmark piece of legislation and it changed the way we think about and respond to domestic violence. It has made a difference in the lives of literally millions of women all over the country by bringing the perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse to justice. It has made a difference by providing safe and secure support services to victims of crimes. It has established a National Domestic Violence Hotline and so much more. It is little wonder such a commonsense and far-reaching concept in legislation has found support from Members of both sides of the aisle.

I mentioned Colorado. Let me cite some numbers. In 2010 alone, 60,000 victims of domestic violence contacted State crisis hotlines seeking help. The funding that VAWA provides not only gives our law enforcement beefed up resources and tools for catching and then prosecuting perpetrators, but it also supports critical services for victims and survivors.

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. I thank the Chair.

These resources have literally saved the lives of women from Durango to Craig and from Pueblo to Denver, and I wish to commend all the important organizations in my State that make it all possible.

The great news is that today--right now--we have the opportunity to make this an even better piece of legislation.

This reauthorization builds upon and strengthens the current act, expanding access to the resources so many victims desperately need. It also contains important reforms that will increase accountability in the use of VAWA resources, ensuring these federal dollars are going to serve the victims who need them most. Taxpayers demand that we spend their monies wisely especially during tough economic times and this VAWA bill meets that high standard they expect of us.

Moreover, it is worth noting this bill makes college campuses safer by requiring that schools develop comprehensive plans to combat and prevent crimes against women.

It also takes the imperative step of strengthening the Federal Government's response to domestic and dating violence on tribal lands, which has climbed to near epidemic levels across the country.

Furthermore, it increases protections and outreach for LGBT victims, because the right to live free from domestic violence should not depend on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The most recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act expired in September of last year. The bottom line is that it is past time to get this done. The legislation before us today has 61 cosponsors, is broadly bipartisan, and has the support of countless women and men around the country.

I believe there is an alternative version of this bill that may come before us for a vote as well. I know this is an election year, and the increasingly partisan climate in Congress has made it tempting to take truly bipartisan legislation such as this and inject division into the debate. But the issues addressed by VAWA are not partisan to the people back in Colorado and around the country. So let is resist that path.

The bipartisan legislation drafted by Senator Leahy and Senator Crapo is the only bill that truly provides the resources necessary in the most effective way to help end violence against women.

I know my colleagues in the Senate share my commitment to reaching this goal, so I am glad this bipartisan bill is finally receiving a vote.

When I served in the House of Representatives, I worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to reauthorize VAWA both in 2000 and 2006, so I know we can come together and pass this reauthorization as well.

We all agree that violence against women is unacceptable. This is a necessary and carefully constructed bill that will protect the lives of women in Colorado and throughout the country.

In concluding, we all agree violence against women is flatout unacceptable, and this is a necessary and carefully constructed bill that will protect the lives of women in Colorado and throughout the country. So let's come together in the Senate, put aside our differences, and pass what is a strong and important bipartisan bill. The families and the communities of my State and our country are counting on us.

I yield the floor.

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