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Mr. NUGENT. I thank my fellow Rules Committee member, Dr. Foxx, for allowing me to speak on this issue not only for women but for all Americans. I also want to thank my Florida colleague Sandy Adams for her leadership shown on this issue.
I spent my entire career as a law enforcement officer, 36 years, and the last 10 years as a sheriff. When you are a cop, you usually don't get to see people in the best light. Getting called to somebody's house or somebody coming to your office isn't typically something that is a highlight of their day. It's because they are in need of help.
Throughout my entire career, I saw some of the worst that man has to offer, and no small part of that was domestic violence. During my four decades as a cop and sheriff, I saw the results of domestic violence: battered partners, both men and women; ch[Page: H2734]
ildren either physically or emotionally hurt in the crossfire between their fighting parents; victims who were suffering, scared, intimidated, and didn't know where to go for justice.
If you will look at the State of Florida and what it did with regards to domestic violence, it's clear that it was not just about a husband and wife. It's about those folks that live within a home. It's about their relationship within that home as it affects their children, as it affects each other. It doesn't specifically say that it has to be a man or a woman. It doesn't identify that. It talks about a relationship--not a casual relationship, but a relationship where they're intimate with each other, they spend time with each other, they're sexually active with each other. It doesn't say that it has to be a man and a woman. It says, these individuals have certain rights under domestic violence law and also the ability to get an injunction for protection.
I have seen abusers on both sides. I have seen those who were married, those who were boyfriend and girlfriend, and those who were boyfriend and boyfriend or girlfriend and girlfriend commit atrocious crimes on each other. It had nothing to do with marriage. It had everything to do with the relationships that they had within their homes.
So as we move forward, those on the other side of the aisle want to add something to this piece of legislation that's already covered. It already covers those relationships. If you start defining a particular relationship, what if you leave one out? In here, it is very broad and allows us, in law enforcement, to be very protective of those that need protection. Whether it's stalking, intimidation, voyeurism, it doesn't matter. And oftentimes, women are the victims of domestic violence, but a man can just as easily be a victim of domestic violence, and I have seen that, too.
The Violence Against Women Act protects and prevents all types of intimate partner crime regardless of the gender of either the criminal or the victim. This legislation funds the programs that not only help men and women who have been hurt, but it also helps law enforcement prevent these crimes from ever happening.
I have heard a number of my colleagues talk about what isn't in the bill. They say, for example, it doesn't include ``sexual orientation'' as one of the protected classes. The Violence Against Women Act is and always has been gender-neutral. That's the beauty of this piece of legislation. It's gender-neutral.
Under the ``real'' VAWA, as some people call it, domestic violence is interpreted as intimate partner violence. It legally includes felony or misdemeanor crimes committed by spouses or ex-spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, and ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends.
Now I'm not going to say this House legislation is perfect, but it makes significant improvements to streamline our Nation's domestic violence programs. In fact, the exact same funding authorization levels in the Senate bill is included in this bill, $680 million in funding per year for the next 5 years. Moreover, the manager's amendment brings the House even more in line with the Senate's authorization.
Madam Speaker, as you probably know, this week is National Police Week, and we certainly know about domestic violence. The men and women that worked for me, as a sheriff, knew about it. Sandy Adams, a former cop, introduced this legislation. And we've seen firsthand what domestic violence does to our families.
By passing this legislation, we get a step closer to making sure these victims receive the services they need. That's why I am encouraging my colleagues to support the rule, support this legislation, and let it get to conference with the Senate so we can bring these services to the men and women who need it the most.
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