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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Unknown

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Ms. MOORE. Madam Speaker, as I stand under the ``E Pluribus Unum,'' I pray that this body will do as the Senate has done and come together as one to protect all women from violence.

As I think about the LGBT victims that are not here, the native women that are not here, the immigrants who are not included in this bill, I would say, as Sojourner Truth would say, Ain't they women? They deserve protections. And we talk about the constitutional rights. Don't women on tribal lands deserve the constitutional right of equal protection and not to be raped and battered and beaten and dragged back onto native lands because they know they can be raped with impunity? Ain't they women?

Once again we stand at an important moment in history, when the House stands poised to choose between the Republican ``alternative'' to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and the bipartisan, comprehensive Senate bill.

We can choose the real VAWA--which is the Senate bill--that will take positive steps towards ensuring the safety of all women. Or we can choose the House GOP VAWA bill. Now this bill may look good on the surface, bearing the same bill number as the Senate bill. But it is really a wolf in sheep's clothing and would exclude victims and weaken the strong, bipartisan Senate bill.

The choice is ours to make, and the choice is clear.

It pains me to say that House Republicans took the Senate bill, which received such a strong bipartisan vote--winning the support of all Democrats, all female Senators, and a majority of Republicans--and transformed it into something nearly unrecognizable.

I have been a proud sponsor of the House version of the Senate bill--H.R. 11--and it has truly been rewarding to work to advance this legislation in the House. This bill reflects years upon years of analysis and best practices, and input from law enforcement, victims, service providers, and many more.

But beyond the updates that have been recommended by the experts--the Senate bill is meaningful to me because of the people it will allow us to reach. I know how it feels to survive a traumatic experience and not have access to services. It is simply heart-breaking to think that every day we delay, there are women, and men, across this country who have nowhere to turn.

The Senate version of the VAWA bill, which we will thankfully have the opportunity to consider on the House floor today, would be the one that actually offers hope--to: LGBT victims, tribal victims, women on college campuses, immigrants, rape survivors waiting for justice, and human trafficking victims.

The Republican alternative, on the other hand, is a shadow of the bill these victims need.

I have a number of concerns about the House alternative. Several of the advocacy groups have determined that this legislation rolls back existing protections for victims, much like the bill we considered last year here in the House.

But I'm also concerned about the reality that this House bill further marginalizes the most vulnerable populations of victims. It amazes me, that my Republican colleagues would rather be exclusive than inclusive.

The House bill removes protections for LGBT victims, who face domestic and sexual violence at rates equal to or greater than the rest of us, but who often face barriers to receiving services. Are LGBT women not worthy of protection?

The House bill fails to offer meaningful protections for tribal victims, though domestic violence in tribal communities is an epidemic. Are tribal women not worthy of protection?

The House bill does not include protections for our students on college campuses, though we know that college campuses--which are supposed to be the site of learning and transformation and personal growth--are all too often the site of horrifying assaults against vulnerable young women. Are our young college women students not worthy of protection?

The House bill removes the human trafficking legislation that passed with the support of a whopping 93 Senators. Are we unwilling to protect our women who are being sold throughout this country and abroad like chattel? Are they not worthy of protection?

The House bill is weaker in almost every way, for every group of victims. They even pared down the pieces that have not gained much attention, perhaps assuming we wouldn't notice--like the housing protections that allow victims of violence to quickly get out of dangerous homes and into homes that will keep them safe from further abuse and harm.

Implementing the House GOP VAWA bill would set the plight of women and our country as a whole back indefinitely. But we have a choice and the right choice would be to support the strong, bipartisan Senate version of VAWA--S. 47.

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Ms. MOORE. Thank you, distinguished ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

I've listened very carefully and very patiently to all of my colleagues in the House, and it seems that everyone in the Chamber is against violence against women. It's just which women we want to protect that remains the question.

For the last 18 months, it appears that I have lived in some sort of twilight zone, like that program on TV, ``Sliders,'' where there are alternate realities. This debate recalls that alternate reality when we hear support of the House amendment over the Senate amendment, and we hear that all women are protected.

For example, the Senate bill supports LGBT victims but the House bill strikes LGBT women as underserved communities. It also strikes the language that would have them as a protected group to not be discriminated against.

The distinguished floor leader has asked us to find areas in the legislation that are wanting, and I would submit that that is one area that is wanting.

The distinguished floor leader has asked us to find ways that the substitute is wanting and the Senate bill is superior.

We give lip service to wanting to support tribal women. But when you stop and think about it, in 1978, the Supreme Court in the Oliphant case decided that Federal laws and policies divested tribes of criminal authority over non-Indians, and the substitute seeks to affirm that, even though that was modified and overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Lara, which said that, in fact, if this body voted, we could, in fact, confer upon Native Americans the authority to give--we have plenary power to enact legislation to relax restrictions on tribal sovereign authority, that we have the power to allow them to enforce domestic violence laws and rape laws on their land.

We so need it, Madam Speaker, because if you are a member of a tribe--say, for example, the Bad River Chippewa band of Chippewa in my State--and you are raped on native land, tribes don't have any authority over that perpetrator if he is a non-Indian, even if he's your husband. The local police in that area don't have any authority. The county sheriff doesn't have any authority. The State trooper can't come in and arrest him. The only person that has any authority over that non-Indiana is some Federal agent in Madison, Wisconsin, 500 miles away, which is why there has been a 67 percent declination of prosecutions of sexual assault.

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