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Violence Against Women Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I am optimistic that today the Senate will complete work on an important bipartisan measure that has been directed by the President pro tempore of the Senate; that is, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

But Senate passage means little if our counterparts in the House fail to act on this crucial legislation. They failed once before. Let's hope this year they will get it past the finish line.

The Republican-controlled House, I repeat, failed to act last year, and the women of America do not want them to fail again. I was reassured to hear House Majority Leader Cantor say yesterday that he ``cares very deeply about women.'' He went on to say the House would act to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

But Americans heard the some promise last year. Despite overwhelming evidence that this legislation saves lives, House Republican leaders used procedural gimmicks and stalling tactics to block its reauthorization. I would remind Leader Cantor and his Republican colleagues of the seriousness of the delay.

Every minute House Republicans wait to act, another 24 Americans will become victims of domestic violence. Every day House Republicans stall, another three women will die at the hands of their abusers. Every year House Republicans put off action in order to please extremists within their own party, during that period of time more than 200,000 women will be sexually assaulted, more than 2 million will be stalked, and more than 1.3 million women will be abused by their partners.

It has been almost 300 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to help law enforcement officials protect women and their families across this country. But despite strong bipartisan support in the Senate, Republicans in the House refused to join the efforts to end domestic abuse.

Those partisan delays put women's lives at risk. Thousands have written letters and e-mailed and called to support this legislation. One Nevada woman shared her story of how her partner held a gun to her head and threatened to pull the trigger. She escaped with her life, but many women are not so fortunate. Every year more than 1,000 women are killed by domestic abusers. Since the Violence Against Women Act expired, more than 16 million women have been victimized.

The law is effective. In the two decades since it was enacted, the law has helped millions of women escape their attackers and seek justice. There is obviously much more work to do. I say to my friend Leader Cantor: It is time for the Republican leaders to stop talking about how much they care about women and start acting to protect women. More than one-third of the women in this country have been the victim of violent sexual assault or stalking. Congress must do everything in its power to help law enforcement officials prevent these terrible crimes and prosecute the perpetrators. Reauthorizing this legislation would help law enforcement improve strategies to prosecute crimes against women. It would provide legal assistance to the victims of violence and funding for shelters to allow women to escape their abusers. It would safeguard youth who are experiencing dating violence and stalking.

Until we fully reauthorize this law, authorities will not have all the tools they need to fight domestic violence. Today--we hope it does not go over until tomorrow--we do not need another day's delay. For the second time in 2 years to protect American women and their children, we hope to take bipartisan action. I hope the House will act quickly to follow suit, as they did not do last year. I trust Leader Cantor's words that this legislation is a priority. I will not be the only one holding him to his promise he made yesterday, to swiftly reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. In fact, there will be 160 million American women who are watching and waiting to see if he turns his words into action.


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