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Letter to Women of the House Republican Conference

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the other Senate Democratic women today wrote a letter calling on the women of the House Republican Conference to work with their leadership and finally pass the bipartisan Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Senator Boxer joined with other Senate Democratic women at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol today to announce the letter.

In the letter, the Senators wrote, "As mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and women intent on protecting the inclusive and bipartisan history of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), we are reaching out to you to ask for your help… In 2013 and beyond, the women of the House and Senate are primed to play an even larger role in guiding national policy and we should do so by working across party lines. Let's not wait any longer to take a critical step forward. We urge you join us by working with your party leaders to put women's safety first. Saving the lives of women is and should be above politics, and every one of us without regard to party should cast a vote for the safety of all women."

As the clock ticks towards the end of the 112th Congress, the Senators' appeal comes on the heels of a bipartisan letter sent to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor last week, including 10 signatures from House Republicans, asking them to immediately take up inclusive VAWA legislation. The Senate version of VAWA reauthorization passed by a bipartisan vote of 68-31 on April 26, 2012.

You can read the full text of the letter below:

December 18, 2012

Dear Women of the House Republican Conference,

As mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and women intent on protecting the inclusive and bipartisan history of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), we are reaching out to you to ask for your help. With only a matter of days remaining in the 112th Congress, we are asking that you work with your leadership to take action and finally pass the Senate's bipartisan Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. With your leadership on this issue we will resolve this matter in a way that puts the safety of all women ahead of partisan politics.

As you know, the Violence Against Women Act enables important efforts across the country to combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It is widely supported by law enforcement officials, victims' advocate groups, and the public at large. It should be one of the least controversial and most bipartisan measures we consider.

In fact, until now, this bill has been among the most broadly supported measures considered in both the House and Senate and has only become more so over time. The original VAWA passed in 1994 with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Support for the legislation's renewal in 2000 was more lopsided, with a 95-0 vote in the Senate, and a 371-1 vote in the House. And an even stronger consensus emerged in 2005, with unanimous approval in the Senate, and a 415-4 vote in the House.

However, it has now been more than 220 days since the Senate gave bipartisan approval to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. The 68-31 Senate vote was a convincing show of bipartisanship at a time when legislation in the Senate is often subject to far more partisan treatment. The legislation has, however, stalled since then. House Republican leaders have so far refused to pass the Senate bill, instead insisting on an alternative watered-down measure that removes key protections for women. All women should be protected and introducing into this legislation the notion that some women subject to violence deserve to be protected while others do not is something we believe we can all agree is unacceptable. We should not pick and choose which victims of abuse to help and which to ignore.

In 2013 and beyond, the women of the House and Senate are primed to play an even larger role in guiding national policy and we should do so by working across party lines. Let's not wait any longer to take a critical step forward. We urge you join us by working with your party leaders to put women's safety first. Saving the lives of women is and should be above politics, and every one of us without regard to party should cast a vote for the safety of all women.

Sincerely,

Patty Murray
United States Senator

Claire McCaskill
United States Senator

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar
United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator

Barbara Mikulski
United States Senator

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Mary Landrieu
United States Senator

Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

Kay Hagan
United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senator


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