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Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has historically provided a vast network of support for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking since its initial passage in 1994. As the House considers the reauthorization of these critical protections, Members of Congress will have to choose between two vastly disparate futures for the women of our Nation.
In one future, the House extends these important protections for all Americans by approving the Senate-passed reauthorization of VAWA, S. 47. This bipartisan bill not only extends the protections afforded to women under previous reauthorizations, but also expands those protections to LGBT individuals, Native Americans, and immigrants. In this future, abusive partners and perpetrators of violence are swiftly brought to justice as Congress builds upon the successes of VAWA, and incorporates new and innovative approaches to combating violence against women.
However, in a harshly dissimilar future that could be realized through the passage of the House substitute bill, only select groups of battered and abused women are protected from violence or sexual assault. In this dismal scenario, college students, Native Americans, LGBT individuals, and others are left to fend for themselves against their attackers. In this future, perpetrators may remain confident that the strain on limited law enforcement resources will prevent them from being prosecuted for these gross violations of the law. This is not the future that I would want to envision for these victims of violence.
Madam Speaker, the Senate-passed version of the VAWA reauthorization is the result of extensive deliberation and consultation with real victims of violence, law enforcement personnel, and outside organizations that specialize in combating domestic violence and abuse. This Congress must vote to pass S. 47 immediately if we are to stand behind the women of this Nation, and send a strong message that these acts will not be tolerated. Every victim of domestic violence in America deserves equal protection under the law, and the House substitute to VAWA does not acknowledge the pervasiveness and severity of the violence that women must face each and every day.
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