February 4, 2013
“Despite the overwhelming evidence that [the Violence Against Women Act] saves lives and protects women, House Republicans used every procedural trick in the book to block its reauthorization last Congress.”
“Allowing partisan delays to put women’s lives at risk is simply shameful.”
“Full reauthorization of the law is necessary to ensure authorities have all the resources they need to fight domestic violence.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery.
In the two decades since the Violence Against Women Act passed both houses of Congress on strong, bipartisan votes, incidents of domestic violence have fallen by 53 percent.
The law has helped millions of women and children escape their attackers and get the justice they deserve.
That’s why Congress twice reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act without a hint of controversy or a moment of delay.
But despite the overwhelming evidence that this legislation saves lives and protects women, House Republicans used every procedural trick in the book to block its reauthorization last Congress.
And despite strong, bipartisan support in the Senate, Republicans in the House refused to join the effort to renew our national commitment to ending domestic violence.
Allowing partisan delays to put women’s lives at risk is simply shameful.
If House Republicans believe domestic violence is no longer a problem in this country, they’re flat wrong.
Every day, three women in America die at the hands of their abusers.
And every day nine more women escape with their lives – but with the physical and emotional scars of abuse.
More than a third of women in this country have been victims of violence, sexual assault or stalking by a partner.
It is in our power to help them. And it is unthinkable that Republicans in the House would prevent us from taking action.
Victims of violence and the law enforcement officials who support them have already waited too long for Congress to act.
This week, the Senate will pass a strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
I thank Chairman Leahy, Senator Murray and the women of the Senate Democratic Caucus for their leadership on this issue.
I am pleased so many of my Senate Republicans colleagues have expressed support for swift action on the Violence Against Women Act during this new Congress.
The Senate will not allow women to be denied the protection they need and deserve.
We must ensure law enforcement has the means to stop these heinous crimes.
And we must guarantee communities have the resources to support victims – regardless of sexual orientation, immigration status or where they live – as they heal.
Every victim of domestic violence deserves the same vigorous protections under the law.
Because of the unique nature of the crime, combating domestic violence and protecting those affected also requires unique tools.
Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act would help law enforcement continue to develop effective strategies to prosecute cases involving violent crimes against women.
It would provide funding for shelters and transitional housing programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to help victims get back on their feet.
It would make legal assistance available to victims of violence, and safeguard children and youth affected by dating violence and stalking.
Although the Violence Against Women Act expired in 2011, many of the programs established under the law have been funded by continuing resolutions.
But a full reauthorization of the law is necessary to ensure authorities have all the resources they need to fight domestic violence.
I hope the Senate’s bipartisan action this week will send a strong message to House Republican leaders that further partisan delay is unacceptable.