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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him for his leadership on this important issue, not only as this legislation comes to the floor, but for the past couple of decades on the subject. I commend the maker of our motion to accept the Senate bill, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, for her sincere leadership on this issue as well.

Madam Speaker, 18 years ago, Members of Congress came together--some of us gathered in this Chamber right now--came together to make history with the original passage of the Violence Against Women Act. We helped ensure that no victim of domestic violence has to suffer in silence.

I want to especially salute our Vice President, Joe Biden, who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate at the time, who worked with our chairman and many Members on both sides of the aisle to pass that legislation, again, making history.

The original Violence Against Women Act took domestic violence out of the shadows and shone bright sunshine on it.

In the years since, domestic violence has decreased by more than 50 percent--more than 50 percent. What a remarkable outcome. Twice in the intervening years we have come together in a bipartisan way to reauthorize and strengthen the law. This year our colleagues in the Senate acted similarly, passing a strong bill with a strong bipartisan vote of 68 1, including the support of every single woman in the Senate, Democratic and Republican alike. In doing so, they not only built on the history of the past, but they made progress for the safety of American women.

In sharp contrast, sadly, while it was a strong bipartisan bill in the Senate, and our substitute that we requested from the Rules Committee was to be able to put forth the Senate bill, so that would be the Senate Democrats and Republicans and House Democrats all in agreement, unfortunately in sharp contrast, House Republicans have brought to the floor today a bill that is controversial in that it will weaken the protections we have given to those who suffer domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

This legislation on the floor fails vulnerable people--members of the LGBT community, Native American women, and immigrant victims. All people deserve to be protected from domestic violence. There should be no exceptions to this law. We can't say women of America, we're passing a bill to protect you--not so fast in your applause if you happen to be a member of the LGBT community, an immigrant or otherwise, or a Native American woman.

Because the Republican bill is a step backward from the current law of the land, more than 300 organizations have spoken out in opposition, from the American Bar Association to the YWCA.

Local law enforcement officials have said that this Republican House bill ``will impede criminal investigations, undermine prosecutions, and interfere with victim safety.'' I repeat the quotation. The local law enforcement officials have said this bill ``will impede criminal investigations, undermine prosecutions and interfere with victim safety.''

Religious organizations such as the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the National Association of Evangelicals have also expressed strong opposition to certain provisions of this legislation.

The many advocates and experts who work day in and day out on this issue, on the issue of domestic violence, have also opposed the House Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act. Republicans have chosen not to listen to the professionals in the field and are failing to give the many organizations serving battered women the tools that they need.

The Obama administration has said in their Statement of Administration Policy that the legislation ``rolls back existing law and removes long-standing protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault--crimes that predominantly affect women.'' That is why the President's senior advisers have said that they would recommend that the President veto this bill.

Today, this House of Representatives has heard powerful statements from women Members of Congress about the need to pass a strong Violence Against Women bill. I hope that the safety of women will be high on the list of our colleagues as they determine their vote.

For nearly 20 years, the Violence Against Women Act has strengthened communities and provided critical life-saving support to victims of violence. Because of this law, more victims get the help they need and domestic violence rates have decreased. Not only has VAWA saved lives; it has saved money. All Americans are entitled to feel safe, including in their own homes--every one of us. Yet too many women continue to live in fear. That is why we must strengthen, never weaken, the Violence Against Women Act.

And I want to commend the members of the Judiciary Committee, my colleagues on the House side, the Democratic side, who have brought such tremendous intellectual resource to this legislation, listening to those who minister to the needs of women who have been victims of domestic violence and to those who are trying to protect it.

I know that everyone in this body, Democratic and Republican alike, have the same goal, which is the safety of women. We not only want us to have the same goal, we want us to have the same goal for all women in America. And that's why we must strengthen, never weaken, the Violence Against Women Act.

Because this bill on the floor rolls back current law and fails to protect all victims of violence, I urge my colleagues to oppose it.

Office of the Democratic Leader

May 16, 2012.

UPDATED: MORE THAN 300 ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE HOUSE GOP VAWA BILL

Today, the House will consider H.R. 4970, the House GOP Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization bill. The bill is being considered under a closed rule.

More than 300 organizations oppose the House GOP bill, including such groups as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Break the Cycle, Legal Momentum, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, YWCA USA, AAUW, Business and Professional Women's Foundation, National Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Bar Association, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Human Rights Campaign, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and National Congress of American Indians.

The National Association of Evangelicals and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are opposed to the immigrant provisions in the bill.

The Administration has also issued a veto threat on the bill.

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