Mr. FARR. Mr. Speaker, I am sad to rise today in opposition to H.R. 4970, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012.
VAWA has never been a partisan issue until this Congress, and I am disappointed that the safety of women in this country is now a political game to those in charge.
Mr. Speaker, I am a brother, a father and a grandfather.
I want to be a part of a country that believes in protecting and preventing violence towards all people, especially our most vulnerable.
When women and girls feel threatened or are at risk of experiencing violence, it interferes with their ability to pursue an education, employment, or community involvement.
For this reason, I have been a strong supporter of past Violence Against Women bills.
The Violence Against Women Act has been an essential tool in helping to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and to allow women and girls to pursue the American dream.
First passed in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, VAWA has successfully strengthened enforcement of state and federal anti-violence laws and underwritten effective prevention and victim support programs.
Since VAWA was first signed into law, annual incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent.
It has been one of the best tools law enforcement, prosecutors, and community service providers have to help protect and support women who have experienced gender violence. The law also streamlines these community programs, saving states and the federal government billions of dollars.
Unfortunately, the version of the bill before us today reverses many of the modest protections in the original bill.
Even worse, this bill goes a step further and outright excludes vulnerable populations such as Native American women, non-citizen women, and LGBT individuals.
Tragically, H.R. 4970 subjects many women to even greater risks of violence and makes it even harder for them to receive the services and programs that should be readily available to them.
Once again, House Republicans are choosing confrontation over compromise.
This Republican bill is opposed by hundreds of groups including law enforcement, civil rights, and faith-based groups and many, many, many of my constituents.
I want only the best for the women in my family and for all of the women in this country.
This bill falls far, far short of the mark.
It does not deserve to be called the ``Violence Against Women Act'' because it fails to protect the people it claims to serve.
I will be voting against this bill and I urge my colleagues to support all women and reject this terrible legislation.