Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement after House Republican leadership finally allowed the Senate's bipartisan, inclusive Violence Against Women Act to be voted on in the House. The bill, which Murray cosponsored, passed by a vote of 286-138 . Passage comes over 500 days after the bill's authorization expired in late 2011. Since that time Murray has helped lead efforts in Congress to reauthorize an inclusive bill that expands VAWA's protections to cover more women in at-risk communities.
"This is a long delayed, hard won, and badly needed victory for millions of women, especially those who were told that they weren't worthy of VAWA's protections. It means that finally, after over 16 months of struggle, tribal women, the LGBT community, immigrants, and women on college campuses will have the tools and resources this life-saving bill provides.
"There is absolutely no reason that it should have taken this long for the House leadership to come around on a bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support. But passage today is a validation of what we've been saying since this bill expired in 2011 - VAWA has never been, and should never be, a partisan bill. That is why I applaud moderate Republican voices in the House who stood up to their leadership to demand a vote on the Senate bill.
"Throughout this process - often through tears - countless women had the courage to come forward and tell painful stories about why this bill was so vital to them. By stepping out of the shadows, they reinforced that they were more than statistics, and they forced those who stood in opposition to this bill to face up to the reality that who a person loves, where they live, or their immigration status should never determine whether they are protected from violence.
"I want to especially thank Deborah Parker of the Tulalip Tribe in my home state. Deborah has been by my side time and again in this effort and repeatedly told her deeply personal story of the violence and abuse women face on tribal lands to illustrate a tremendous unmet need. Along with Deborah, I know that advocates across the country are breathing a sigh of relief today knowing that we finally got this done.
"I'm proud to join the President, the Vice President, Senator Leahy, and the coalition of women's groups, law enforcement, clergy members, educators, and concerned citizens who've repeatedly stood strong to make this moment possible. For nearly two decades VAWA has allowed women to escape lives afflicted by violence and abuse. It's been one of the privileges of my career to stand strong over the past year and a half to ensure that VAWA's protections are expanded to include more women."