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Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, for nearly two decades, Congress has repeatedly reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act on a near unanimous and bipartisan basis.
Since the act became law, incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent and the reporting rate of domestic violence has risen by 51 percent.
The 2012 reauthorization is a chance for Congress to reaffirm its commitment to the protection of women across this Nation. That is why it's particularly disheartening to see such a vital piece of legislation fall victim to putting politics ahead of people.
What are the facts? Tonight, an American woman will join the one in four women who have been the victims of severe physical domestic violence. To her, this reauthorization is more than just a bill; it's security. The bill is security for the one in six women who have been raped in their lifetime. It's security for the mothers, daughters, and sisters across this Nation, and its security for the selfless individuals who tirelessly work to bring aid.
Now is not the time to take a step back, to abandon these victims. This Congress must expand its efforts and ensure that all victims are assisted, no matter what their race, religion, or sexual orientation. Too many in this body have chosen to fight against these protections. They want to fight efforts to extend LGBT individuals equal protection, even though they're less likely to receive protective orders, more likely to be turned away, and because of this are less likely to report their attack to the police. They deserve equal protection, and there's a bipartisan bill that does just that, but it's falling victim to election-year politics.
In America, we have to combat the abuse of women in our own society--no matter their country of origin--if we're going to continue to have the moral authority to advocate for the rights of people abroad. There is also a bipartisan bill that would continue to protect immigrant survivors by granting them special visas and by preventing retribution from their attackers, yet there are some in this body who would also deny these women protection.
These days, bipartisan compromise is hard to come by, no matter how hard some of us try. We are rarely handed an opportunity where there is such universal agreement. VAWA has a proud history of bipartisan support. Let's continue that tradition, put politics aside, and pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill that protects all victims.
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