|Pass an Inclusive VAWA and Stop the Sequester|
|February 27, 2013|
Today, we began debate on the Violence Against Women Act and House Democrats presented a final opportunity to stop sequestration. Despite what you may have heard, the House GOP has failed to take any action in the 113th Congress that would stop the sequester--any action taken in the 112th Congress has expired. Today in Congress, I urged my colleagues to pass the inclusive Senate VAWA bill, and to support a Democratic proposal to stop the sequester. You can watch video of my floor speech below, or read the text of the speech here.
Floor Opening- Violence Against Women Act
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter
February 27, 2013
I thank the gentleman for yielding me the customary 30 minutes and I yield myself such time as I may consume.
When I joined my former colleague, Representative Pat Schroeder of Colorado, to write the original Violence Against Women Act, it did not occur to us to exclude or discriminate against anyone. And in the multiple times the law has been reauthorized, we as a legislature have always tried to ensure that all victims of domestic violence receive protection under the law.
Unfortunately, the latest attempt to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act has been different.
This time, the Majority has alternately tried to pass extreme legislation that would weaken current law, and rejected calls to pass bipartisan legislation that would strengthen current law.
On February 12th, with 22 Republican Senators voting in favor- including every Republican woman- the Senate approved a reauthorization that is both comprehensive and inclusive in nature. Unfortunately, instead of allowing a clean up-or-down vote on this bipartisan bill, the Majority Leadership proposed a substitute amendment that removes key provisions from the Senate bill.
For example, the Leadership’s amendment fails to explicitly protect LGBT victims and limits protections for immigrants. At the same time, the amendment fails to close the legal loopholes that leave Native American victims of domestic violence with nowhere to turn. Additionally, despite the high rate of dating violence and sexual assault on college campuses, the amendment entirely omits protections for young women who are victimized in college.
That is why the Majority’s amendment is opposed by groups including the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, among others.
It is dismaying that some in the Majority want to weaken a strong bipartisan Senate bill, and it is vital that this chamber reject their alternative partisan amendment.
With the votes we are about to take, we will be asked to choose between an amendment that that fails to protect some victims of domestic violence, and the bipartisan Senate bill that protects all victims.
We will be asked to choose between an amendment that is being opposed by victims and victims’ rights advocates, and the bipartisan Senate bill that has received widespread support from many of the same groups.
When looking at the options before us, it is clear what we must do. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on the substitute amendment to the Senate bill so that the original Senate legislation will receive a vote in the House tomorrow.
M./ Speaker, I would like to take a moment and talk about the incredible impact the Violence Against Women Act has had since it was enacted in 1994.
Thanks to the Violence Against Women Act, instances of domestic violence have fallen by 67 percent, and over one million people have obtained protective orders against their batterers.
Before passage of the Violence against Women Act, police officers were not trained to separate a victim and an abuser when they responded to a domestic violence call. Thanks to the law, police officers are now trained to do just that- an important change that stopped violence from resuming the moment the police left and the front door closed.
But perhaps the greatest victory of the Violence Against Women Act is that the law finally brought millions of victims out of the shadows and gave them a place to stand.
In 1994, domestic violence in our country was not discussed, and its scars were never acknowledged. As a result, domestic violence victims often became abusers in a cycle of violence that wouldn’t end.
We wrote the law to end that cycle of violence, and for 18 years this law has given victims a voice, and made incredible progress in ending the cycle of violence.
Every time we’ve renewed the law, our goal has been the same: to ensure that all victims of domestic violence- no matter their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, their age or their gender- are acknowledged, helped and protected by the law.
It has been more than 500 days since the Violence Against Women Act expired. Today is the day that ends- and we act in the name of justice.
I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on the exclusionary substitute amendment so that we can vote ‘yes’ on the bipartisan Senate legislation tomorrow.
In addition, today this chamber will have an opportunity to stop the sequester, which is scheduled to take effect in just two days.
As we all know by now, the drastic sequester cuts will harm our economy, and lead to cutbacks on everything from border patrol agents to food inspectors and important scientific research. Most importantly, these cuts will lead to job losses and a slowdown in our economy that we simply cannot afford.
Today we intend to give Members of the House an opportunity to vote on a sequester solution. If we defeat the previous question, we will allow the House to vote on a thoughtful solution written by the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, Representative Van Hollen. Mr. Van Hollen’s legislation would reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way while stopping the devastating sequester cuts.
Three times, Mr. Van Hollen has brought his proposal to the Rules Committee, and the Majority has rejected consideration of his amendment every time.
Today is the last chance for the House of Representatives to stop the sequester. Despite what some have said, this chamber has not passed a solution to the sequester during the 113th Congress. It is vital that the inaction of the Majority come to an end- we must take action to stop the sequester today.
In order to bring Mr. Van Hollen’s thoughtful and serious sequester solution to the House Floor, I strongly urge my colleagues to vote “no” on the previous question. Doing so will allow Mr. Van Hollen’s legislation the serious debate and vote that it deserves.
I RESERVE the balance of my time.