Following the Senate's passage of a strong new Violence Against Women Act, Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today called on Republican leaders to let the House of Representatives consider and pass the bill. Larsen is an original cosponsor of the House version of the bill, H.R. 11.
"Over nearly two decades the Violence Against Women Act has saved thousands of women's lives and has made sure that domestic abusers meet justice," Larsen said. "The House needs to pass this bill right away to give law enforcement officers and community leaders the resources they need to stop domestic violence and sexual assault."
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 includes significant improvements that will allow law enforcement to counteract domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The bill also expands protections for Native women, immigrants and LGBT victims.
Tulalip Tribes Vice Chairwoman Deborah Parker praised the Senate passage. Parker advocated passage of the bill in Washington, DC last year.
"As a Native American sister, mother, aunt, daughter, I know too painfully how important the Violence Against Women Act is," Parker said. "For far too long Native American women have lacked serious protections on our reservations. The Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate today makes sure that Native American women get the resources and defenses they deserve. I urge the House of Representatives to uphold the Constitution and pass this important bill right away."
Larsen held a series of roundtables on domestic violence through the 2nd District and spoke out on the House floor about the need for a strong Violence Against Women Act last year.
"Over the last year I met with dozens of advocates for domestic violence victims in Tulalip, Oak Harbor, Mount Vernon, Lynnwood and Bellingham," Larsen said. "The message I got was clear: we need to pass an update to VAWA that includes protections for vulnerable tribal, LGBT, immigrant and other marginalized communities. Deborah Parker explained in clear terms why the status quo leaves Native women vulnerable. In Bellingham I learned how immigrant women too often must risk their legal residency if they speak out against their abusers.
"The House has an opportunity to help victims and stop domestic violence before it happens. We should act now."
The Senate's passage of the bill was also praised by Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County:
"We cannot begin to stress the importance of the Violence Against Women Act," said Vicci Hilty, Executive Director of Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County. "The Violence Against Women Act keeps our communities safe. Domestic violence and sexual assault affect every one of us in our communities."
A fact sheet about the bill is available here.