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Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. HIRONO. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 4970, the House Majority's version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012, which eliminates important protections for women that have been supported on a bipartisan basis for many years.

The tragedy of domestic violence is a reality for many families in our country and around the world. Unfortunately, it likely touches someone we know. Domestic violence affects people at all income levels, ethnicities, and ages.

Since its enactment in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been improved with each renewal in 2000 and 2005.

It has been done on a bipartisan basis. The Senate's 2012 VAWA reauthorization bill passed by a 68 31 margin.

The same cannot be said for this bill, which barely passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 17 15 vote along mostly partisan lines. Rather than addressing serious gaps in protection and services, H.R. 4970 rolls back critical safeguards that have long been part of this law and repeals current law requiring abuser-submitted evidence to be corroborated before it can be used against a victim. These safeguards were included as part of previous reauthorizations and are included in S. 1925, the Senate's 2012 bipartisan reauthorization bill. With these provisions stripped, H.R. 4970 leaves countless women, including LGBT, immigrant, and American Indian victims at risk.

The bill puts abused immigrant women at increased risk by imposing new, burdensome procedural hurdles that would delay or deny protections and put victims in a more vulnerable position than they would be under current law. Law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and National Association of Attorneys General support provisions in current law and in the Senate bill that protect immigrant women and help police and prosecutors pursue cases against dangerous perpetrators.

The House Majority's VAWA reauthorization would abolish significant enhancements contained in the bipartisan Senate bill. For LGBT victims of domestic violence, H.R. 4970 fails to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal access to services. This bill would do away with provisions designed to provide justice to American Indian women by eliminating provisions empowering tribes with jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators on their lands.

Our Nation's most vulnerable victims of violence stand to lose from this reauthorization should it become law. I am dismayed to see that some could actually support legislation that provides protections for abusers rather than the abused. I urge my colleagues to reject H.R. 4970.

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