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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Today, as we consider the Violence Against Women Act, I'd like to start by thanking our majority leader, Eric Cantor, and many Republicans in the House for their time and their commitment to this important issue.

The Violence Against Women Act first passed on the floor of this very House nearly two decades ago, and it has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Years later--after two reauthorizations, a pivotal Supreme Court case, and a nationwide expansion of laws condemning violence against women--Republicans are committed to protecting victims of violence and putting offenders behind bars. That's why we are bringing it to the floor today.

It's important to protect all women against acts of domestic violence and other violent crimes and ensure that resources go directly to the victims. Because that is what this bill is really about: It's about people.

It's time to remember why this bill passed nearly two decades ago. Protecting women was our first priority then, and it should be our first priority now.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Madam Speaker, just to make a couple of clarifications, number one, the House, led by the Republicans, passed legislation in early May last year to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and, number two, funding has continued, $599 million.

At this time, I'm pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from North Dakota, Kevin Cramer.


Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Madam Speaker, just to clarify, on the House substitute that we'll be considering a little later, it ensures that money goes to victims by increasing accountability. It ensures and guarantees that grants to combat sexual assault are distributed equitably. It improves the ability for law enforcement to prosecute abusers. It better protects Indian women from domestic violence, and it safeguards constitutional rights to ensure justice for victims.

At this time I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Lankford), our policy chairman.


Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Madam Speaker, I would just ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to please point to anywhere in the House bill that coverage for anyone is denied. To specifically state: Where is the coverage denied?

The House covers all victims. This bill does not exclude anyone for any characteristic. Not only does the bill specifically prohibit discrimination; it directs the Attorney General to make a rule regarding antidiscrimination efforts as he sees fit.

Moreover, the STOP grant is reauthorized to permit funding to go toward men as well as women. The House bill enhances protections for Native American women. The House bill requires the Justice Department to cross-designate tribal prosecutors as Federal prosecutors in 10 federally recognized Indian tribes. This allows tribal prosecutors to move forward more quickly in Federal court.

The House bill provides a constitutional route for Indian tribes to prosecute non-Indian offenders for domestic violence crimes against Native American women. This is critical for victims to ensure that offenders do not have their convictions overturned.

The House bill contains increased accountability provisions. The House bill mandates better coordination among grantees and Federal employees to ensure money is spent effectively and efficiently. This is in response to allegations of misuse of funds. It limits administrative expenses and salaries to 5 percent, ensuring that money goes to victims and law enforcement. This ensures that money goes to victims, not bureaucrats.

At this time, I'm happy to yield 2 minutes to a champion for all human rights, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).


Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Madam Speaker, I would just like to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that the House, the Republican majority in the House, passed legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in May of last year. Funding has continued. Congress, including the Republicans in the House, has supported and continues to fund these important programs at $600 million a year. No program has gone unfunded as we have continued to focus on the important work of getting this bill reauthorized.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.

Madam Speaker, we've heard strong bipartisan support over the last hour for the Violence Against Women Act and standing for all victims.

I remain convinced that the House amendment is the strongest reauthorization of VAWA and the one that should be sent to the President's desk. It's a responsible bill that protects all victims of domestic violence. It's a bill that holds offenders fully accountable for their crimes. It is a bill that respects the Constitution.

It puts the focus on the victim, where it should be. It provides the necessary services and resources to victims while at the same time strengthening investigations and prosecutions to lock away offenders for a longer period of time.

What it does not do is engage in the type of divisive, political rancor that many have tried to leverage or exploit. Republicans want to reauthorize a bill that protects women, not promotes partisanship.

Over the last few months, the debate over VAWA has been muddled with partisan attacks. In fact, just last week, comments were made that claim the House bill will not provide critical protections for rape victims, domestic violence victims, human trafficking victims, students on campus, or stalking victims, or that the House Republican leadership just doesn't get it.

None of these assertions are further from the truth, and it is this political bickering and these baseless accusations that keep Congress from doing the job to protect those who need the most protection, because this bill is about people, not politics.

It's about Rebecca Schiering, from my home near Spokane Valley, who broke up with her fiance after a domestic dispute. Two months later, he shot and killed her and her 9-year-old son. It's about Michelle Canino of north Spokane, who was stabbed to death by her husband, Jeffrey, while her 11-year-old son watched the entire thing. This bill is about Rebecca and Michelle and the millions of women like them all across this country who need protection, and that's what this bill will do. It ensures that all vulnerable populations are protected. No one is excluded from it or can be discriminated against.

The bill ensures that resources are available for critical services. It ensures that victims and their families have access to housing. It ensures that investigations and prosecutions are more effective in putting offenders away for a longer period of time. It ensures that Native American women have access to justice on Indian land and in such a way that prohibits offenders from getting off the hook.

I am disappointed that even some of our country's most influential leaders--the ones who have the ability to move this legislation through Congress and get it to the President's desk--have dismissed this House bill. It is a responsible step forward, and I urge its support.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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