Ms. CASTOR of Florida. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Rule and urge a ``no'' vote on the flawed bill my Republican colleagues will bring to the floor.
They had an opportunity to bring the bipartisan Senate Violence Against Women Act, but chose not to.
The Violence Against Women Act has been bipartisan and noncontroversial for almost 20 years now. The update passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis just last month.
Why does everything have to be a partisan fight? Over the past year, my Republican colleagues in the House have blocked an important jobs package, stalled the national transportation and infrastructure bill, dragged their feet on help for students and the impending increase in the student loan rate, and now they have turned what has been a bipartisan effort to protect the victims of domestic violence into a senseless political fight.
Republicans would not even allow debate on any amendments so we could address its flaws.
In fact, their legislation not only rolls back longstanding, bipartisan provisions, but it leaves out protections for our LGBT community, Native American women and immigrants.
Unlike the bipartisan Senate version, the House Republican bill does not include a provision prohibiting any Violence Against Women Act funds from discriminating against anyone based on their sexual orientation.
The House Republican bill also does not include language explicitly including the LGBT community in the ``STOP Grant program'' that provides funds to domestic violence service providers.
Studies have shown that the LGBT victims face discrimination when accessing domestic violence services.
We should be working towards stronger domestic violence protections for the LGBT community--not trying to exclude them from domestic violence protections, as the Republican bill would do.
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Many of these domestic assaults go unreported by the victims for fear of retaliation by their abuser.
Immigrant victims are oftentimes the most vulnerable to this cycle because their abusers use their immigration status as a tool to manipulate and control them.
That is why in the 1994 Violence Against Women Act Congress included the ``self-petition'' provision to ensure that immigrant victims of domestic violence could leave their abuser without fear of losing legal status.
The Republican bill would delay and deny that protection for many immigrant victims.
In my home state of Florida there were 113,378 crimes of domestic violence reported in 2010.
If the Republican bill were to pass, more domestic violence crimes would go unreported, more abusers would be free, and more victims would be harmed.
More children, families, and women would be at risk of continued abuse by their abuser.
This bill works in opposition to the very purpose of the legislation--to protect victims of domestic violence.
Not just some victims--all victims.
So advocates across the country who are on the front lines in aiding women and victims everyday have announced their opposition. Please defeat the rule, so that we can call up the bipartisan, improved version from the Senate.