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Mr. DICKS. Madam Speaker, I believe every Member of the House supports the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. However, I oppose the bill we are considering today because it contains serious gaps in its protections for Native American victims of domestic violence and it does not include language to ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered victims in grant programs under the bill.
The bill fails to grant the tribal police and courts, generally the closest legal authorities for an alleged incident of domestic violence occurring on a reservation, the authority to address an incident occurring on tribal lands. Instead, tribal residents in my district would be forced to rely on Federal courts, located several hours away in Tacoma and Seattle, for help and protection. This puts a terrible and potentially dangerous burden on Indian victims in need of a protection order, many of whom do not have the means to travel this distance. Furthermore, the requirement forcing a victim to disclose her residential address called for in Section 1006 of the bill may well put her in further jeopardy.
I am also deeply concerned about the bill's refusal to prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in all VAWA programs. No victim of violence of any kind should be denied assistance simply because his or her sexual orientation. It is wrong that the bill further perpetuates this inequity, and I fear the reasons are purely political.
The answer to this problem is simple. A bipartisan compromise reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act passed the other body with 68 votes in favor, including 15 Republicans. It resolved these issues in a way that was acceptable to both sides, and I encourage the leadership in the House to allow this bill to come to the floor for a vote immediately.
I urge my colleagues to reject this flawed bill and to push for the consideration of a truly bipartisan reauthorization bill before the week is out.
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