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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. NADLER. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, whether it is an attempt to deny women reproductive or other health services, or a refusal to support efforts to achieve equal pay for equal work, many women in America today feel under siege. Indeed, many women across the country feel a war is being waged upon them by policymakers.

Today, with this final amendment to the CJS Appropriations bill, Members of the House will have a chance to say where they stand.

This is the final amendment to the bill. It will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill, as amended, will proceed to final passage.

This amendment would increase, by $20 million, money spent on grants under the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA.

Passed in 1994, VAWA is a landmark piece of legislation that has helped an incalculable number of women and families avoid or recover from crimes of violence. Grant programs under VAWA target domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual assault, and rape. These are crimes many women know all too well.

Indeed, violence against women remains a pervasive problem and a national tragedy. In 2008, about 1.8 million women over the age of 12 were subjected to a crime of violence. In that same year, almost 3,000 women were murdered, many by someone close to them. Every year, 1.3 million women over the age of 18 are assaulted by intimate partners. We need to do more to stop this epidemic; we need to do more for America's women.

I want to acknowledge what I expect the opponents of this motion may say--that funding for the VAWA grant programs in the underlying bill is a few million dollars above last year's level and above the President's request. I would point out, as a response, that the money in this bill is hundreds of millions of dollars below the last authorized amount and $15 million below the appropriation for fiscal year 2010. Additionally, this is not the last stop for this bill. When we conference with the Senate, which has a higher total funding level for CJS, we should have the highest possible funding level for VAWA from which to negotiate.

The amendment offsets the $20 million increase for VAWA by cuts to administrative accounts. We have heard from our colleagues of the need to cut government spending, to cut administrative expenses, to prevent the types of excesses we have seen recently in the GSA and other agencies with Las Vegas conference extravaganzas. Well, now is our chance to put our money where our mouth is and shift funding from these types of administrative expenses to preventing violence against women.

This is a question of values and priorities. What kind of message do we want to send to women across the country? Do we want GSA-style wild party, extravagant conferences or do we want to safeguard the lives of women? Do we value women's safety? Are we willing to make sure that we have the resources needed?

I ask all Members today: Stand up for your mothers; stand up for your wives; stand up for your daughters and for women everywhere. Stop the violence. Pass this motion to recommit.

I now yield to the sponsor of a truly meaningful bill to reauthorize VAWA based on bipartisan legislation which has already passed the Senate and a former victim of domestic violence herself, the gentlelady from Wisconsin (Ms. Moore).


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