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Levin floor statement on Violence Against Women Act reauthorization

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. President, as a cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, I urge my colleagues to adopt this important measure.

The issue before us is not partisan. It is not of importance to just one state or region, or to a single group or interest. It is manifestly in the interest of every American to reauthorize these important programs that have made such a difference in the lives of women and families across this country.

Since its passage, the Violence Against Women Act has provided comprehensive support to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and to the federal, state and local agencies that confront this scourge every day. The original legislation passed in 1994 laid a strong foundation that helped establish a coordinated response to violence against women. Reauthorizations in 2000 and 2005 strengthened that foundation. Today, through violence prevention grants, services to survivors of sexual assault, legal assistance, transitional housing grants, assistance to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors and other efforts, VAWA has made an enormous difference.

Deaths due to violent acts by intimate partners have decreased significantly. And according to a cost-benefit analysis, VAWA saved nearly $15 billion in its first six years of existence by avoiding the high social costs violence against women exacts on our nation. William T. Robinson, the president of the American Bar Association, calls VAWA "the single most effective federal effort to respond to the epidemic of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in this country."

I had hoped the Congress would act to reauthorize VAWA last year. There is no reason that today we cannot pass this legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. Doing so will make an enormous difference in protecting women from domestic abuse and other forms of violence. And it will make a strong statement that the Senate is united in our desire to ensure that our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters will continue to receive that protection.

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