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Public Statements

Executive Calendar

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Nomination of Adrian Zuckerman

Mr. President, I also ask that in relation to the Zuckerman nomination, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action.


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. President, I am so pleased to stand with Senator Ernst and my colleagues today to talk about the 2019 Violence Against Women Act.

Most women will tell you that they know of a female friend or acquaintance or relative who has experienced the horrors of sexual assault or domestic violence or even trafficking. Through my work with shelters back home in Tennessee, I have learned that the volunteers, the counselors, the advocates, and the attorneys who support these victims are of the utmost importance. They are who the victims need to see the minute they walk through that door, into their arms, and hear them say: How can we help you? This is a safe place.

These are the people who come around them to empower them, and the one thing I hear over and over in the wake of one's attack is that these victims need that type of support. This is why, in addition to providing funding for both prevention and educational programs, this year's authorization will do some important things. It will increase funding for the court-appointed special advocates by $3 million. It will provide over $1 million per year for Federal victim counselors. It will also help to provide transitional housing to victims, which is something they will desperately need. They need to know they have a safe place.

These resources--and this is important--are going to go directly into the hands of those who are providing these services, and this will have a direct impact on the lives of these women when they need it the most.

Just for a moment, I would like to highlight a portion of the reauthorization on which I have spent a good deal of time working this year. It has to do with a particular violent sexual crime that is so grotesque that most Americans prefer not to even acknowledge it. They don't want to admit that this exists. Yet, for the victims of female genital mutilation, the pain and the humiliation are nearly unbearable.

You would think that Federal prosecutors would be able to make short work out of such heinous charges, but due to a loophole in Federal criminal law, scores of victims have watched their abusers walk free. The Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2019, which is a separate bill that I sponsored earlier this year, is now a part of this year's reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. It will correct fatal constitutional flaws in the Federal statute that bans the practice of FGM. When this is done, under Federal law, prosecutions for mutilation and cutting will be able to continue.

I would be remiss if I did not say that in a perfect world, we would not have to worry about allocating resources for safe houses and for victim counseling. We should not have to do this, but this is not a perfect world. So, yes, indeed, we do have to step up and do this for the sake of the thousands of women who fall victim to sexual violence, trafficking, and sexual abuse each year.

I urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together and work on this. Let's pass the 2019 Violence Against Women Act.

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