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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CONNOLLY. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see the Republican Leadership in the House has decided to relent on its ideological objections to renewing the landmark protections and support services for women who are victims of violence or domestic abuse.

Until just days ago, it appeared the House was again preparing to stand in the way of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which was supported by a majority of Republican Senators when the bill passed that chamber on a stronger, more bipartisan vote than it did in the 112th Congress. I am proud to cosponsor the House companion, which now has 200 cosponsors.

Far too many of us have been touched by domestic violence in one way or another. Maybe it was a mother, a sister, a college roommate, or co-worker, who was forced to suffer in silence following an attack. Domestic violence is a real and troubling problem in our communities, and the need for these protections continues to grow. In my district, Turning Points, the only domestic violence intervention program in Prince William County served 6,000 clients last year. In neighboring Fairfax County, there were more than 8,000 cases of domestic violence reported, and we have seen a 40% increase in homelessness due to domestic violence.

This vital legislation will renew our successful partnerships with local nonprofits and law enforcement agencies. It will improve protections for underserved communities, particularly immigrants and victims of human trafficking. It will expand housing assistance for victims and provide support regardless of sexual orientation.

Since these victim protections were first adopted in a bipartisan fashion 19 years ago, reporting of domestic violence has increased as much as 51% as more victims are coming forward. Today's legislation will ensure more women, children and families receive this lifesaving assistance so they can finally move from a situation of crisis to one of stability.

Again, I commend my Republican colleagues for compromising on this important legislation. This is yet another example of the tremendous work we can achieve for our constituents when we work together, and I hope we continue in that spirit as we turn to address the devastating cuts of sequestration and the budget for the rest of this fiscal year, which will affect these new victim protections among our many other priorities.


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