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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MORAN. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act and in opposition to the watered down version offered by House Republicans that omits key provisions to protect all victims of domestic violence. I am pleased that after nearly a year of delay and unnecessary partisan positioning, a comprehensive, inclusive VAWA is poised to be enacted into law.

This legislation, S. 47, received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, passing by a vote of 78-22, and is supported by law enforcement officials, health care providers, community providers, and millions of domestic violence survivors. Unlike the alternative House Republican version, the Senate bill includes critical provisions to protect vulnerable populations including LGBT individuals, Native Americans, immigrants, and victims of rape.

Specifically, the Senate bill ensures the availability of services to all victims of domestic and dating violence, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure also provides authority to Native American tribes to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence-related offenses. Finally, the Senate measure adds stalking to the list of crimes for which victims can receive protection through the U-Visa program. All of the changes are vital and, unfortunately, absent in the House Republican bill.

Twice over the last 20 years, Democrats and Republicans, working together, have been able to reauthorize VAWA to continue and expand protections for all victims of domestic and sexual violence. A recent tragedy involving one of my constituents underscores the importance for this body to continue that bipartisan tradition.

On February 18, 2013, Jenny Lynn Pearson was brutally murdered by her husband of less than a year at her apartment in Reston, Virginia. Jenny was five months pregnant with her unborn son, whom she had named Aiden. A native of Fairfax County, Jenny is described by friends and family as humble and beautiful, a lover of nature and animals, a kind and generous soul. Her life, and that of her unborn son, was snuffed out far before its time.

Unfortunately, this type of severe domestic violence is an all-too-common reality in the United States. Approximately 2.3 million people each year are raped or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in America. And the cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion annually, including $4.1 billion in direct health care expenses.

While we still have much work to do, VAWA has helped address these startling levels of partner violence. Since it was first enacted in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent, while the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased 34 percent for women and 57 percent for men. Reauthorization of VAWA will ensure that our nation's mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends continue to receive federal resources that can help keep them safe from harm.

Now is the time for the House to remove ideological roadblocks and send to the President a comprehensive VAWA bill that includes protections for all Americans. I encourage all of my colleagues to vote in favor of the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act.


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