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Mr. MORAN. Madam Speaker, I rise in reluctant but strong opposition to H.R. 4970, a needlessly partisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that unwisely undermines important protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Initially enacted in 1994, VAWA acknowledges the harmful and persistent impact that domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence has on our society. Nearly one in four women are the victims of rape or abuse by a partner during adulthood, with young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experiencing the highest rate of partner violence. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, half of whom are victims of incest. Nationwide, approximately three women are killed each day by a current or former intimate partner.
In addition to the physical and emotional trauma experienced by victims, domestic violence and sexual assaults impose a tremendous economic cost on our nation. Rape is the most costly crime to its victims, totaling $127 billion a year in medical costs, lost earnings, and diminished quality of life. The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion, including $4.1 billion in direct health care expenses. Over 25 percent of domestic violence victims report that they lost a job, at least in part, because of this violence. In total, domestic violence is estimated to cost employers in the U.S. up to $13 billion every year.
To address this staggering problem, VAWA established streamlined programs to provide law enforcement, judges and prosecutors, and social service providers with the resources they need to hold offenders accountable and support the needs of victims. It allowed for coordinated, community-based services for victims and strengthened housing protections. VAWA also created important prevention programs for young people and improved the response to violence against Native American women and those in underserved communities. The tangible results of VAWA are impressive and should make all Americans proud.
Since 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent, while the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased 34 percent for women and 57 percent for men. States have enacted important protections for victims of stalking and strengthened rape laws in response to VAWA. Many more victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault are able to access critical services. An entire generation of justice system professionals now understands that our society cannot tolerate these crimes. In just the first six years after enactment, VAWA saved an estimated $12.6 billion in net averted costs.
Yet, the bill before us today betrays the bipartisan history of VAWA. It fails to contain important reforms included in a Senate-passed version of the bill that ensure LGBT, Native American, and immigrant women receive the protections they deserve. The bill lacks protections for LGBT survivors despite the fact that studies have clearly shown that these individuals are underserved explicitly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It fails to provide American Indian women effective recourse to bring justice against non-Indian abusers, even though these women face rates of victimization more than double that of non-Indian women. And the bill, for the first time ever, weakens protections in current law for migrant victims of violence. The bill would leave immigrant victims without meaningful access to protection, create processing delays that will keep women in life-threatening situations for longer periods of time, and undermine law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute violent crimes with the assistance of immigrant victims.
Compounding the serious flaws in the legislation, Republicans forced the bill to the floor under a closed rule, allowing no opportunity for Democratic Members to offer amendments to improve the bill. Instead of following a truly democratic process to debate these important policy provisions, the majority finds it more important to shield their side from uncomfortable votes. This procedure is inappropriate for legislation as important as VAWA and is clearly inconsistent with the majority's pledge for a more open Congress.
VAWA always has been, and should have remained, a bipartisan bill. I am deeply troubled that my Republican colleagues decided to roll back protections for victims of abuse and failed to include the responsible reforms contained in the Senate bill that passed by a bipartisan vote of 68 31. We must pass a strong VAWA reauthorization, but this bill falls well short of that critical necessity.
I ask my colleagues to oppose this bill, and I encourage the Republican leadership to allow a vote on the bipartisan Senate bill.
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