Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reps. Moore, Conyers and Slaughter Introduce VAWA That Protects LGBT, Native American, Immigrant, Campus and Sex Trafficking Victims
Bipartisan Senate Version Of VAWA Deserves A Vote In House

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), and Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), introduced the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act as an amendment to fix the partisan and discriminatory proposal put forth this week by House Republicans. The Senate’s version, which passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 78-22, extends the law’s crucial protections to LGBT, Native American and immigrant victims, provides for more rape kits as well as a national registry of forensic evidence from sexual assault cases, strengthens criminal anti-trafficking statutes, provides for temporary housing for victims and addresses domestic violence on American college campuses. Moore, Conyers and Slaughter urged members to support the bipartisan, inclusive Senate version of VAWA, instead of the partisan Republican proposal, which was written behind closed doors and waters down crucial protections against domestic violence.

“These games must end,” said Rep. Moore. “Republicans have introduced their version of VAWA, under the Senate bill number and the Senate title. I guess they thought no one would notice their bill fails to adequately protect LGBT, Native American, campus and sex trafficking victims and actually weakens current law. Their bill title may say VAWA, but it is far from the Senate bill that works to protect all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking and passed with a strong bipartisan vote. Today I joined Representatives Conyers and Slaughter to introduce the real VAWA – the Senate VAWA. We have the support; we are waiting on Republican leadership to bring our VAWA bill to the floor for a vote.”

“The Senate has passed a strong bipartisan bill that contains critical protections for all victims of domestic violence,” said Rep. Conyers, Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee.  “The House, and victims of domestic violence deserve an up or down vote on this critical legislation.  But instead the House Majority is playing politics and pushing through a partisan version of VAWA that they know is dead on arrival in the Senate. It’s time for the House Republicans to join their colleagues in the Senate and stand up for all victims.”

“We’ve heard no explanation for why the Republican Majority is opposed to protecting the lives and persons of anyone in the United States from domestic violence,” said Rep. Slaughter, Ranking Member on the House Rules Committee. “As an original author of the Violence Against Women Act, it never crossed my mind that this law would ever be used as a vehicle for discrimination. The bipartisan Senate proposal deserves an up-or-down vote in the House, but unfortunately, we anticipate another closed rule on a discriminatory, partisan version of this landmark law, which has been responsible for reducing domestic violence incidents by over 60 percent since its passage.”

***Below, please find a fact sheet prepared by the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff comparing the bipartisan, inclusive Senate version of VAWA with the partisan, discriminatory House Republican version of VAWA.

House Republican VAWA Weakens S. 47
Partisan Substitute Deletes Critical Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

          This week, the House will consider a substitute version of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.  While the bill has been noticed as S. 47, the version before the House is significantly different than the legislation that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 78 to 22 and with the support of all Democrats, all female Senators, and a majority of Republicans.  The Senate passed bill incorporates years of analysis of the problem, and solutions proposed by law enforcement, victims, and victim service providers.  The House bill does not.

Rather than allow the House to take an up or down vote on the bipartisan Senate passed bill, the House Republican Majority is pushing through legislation that will pick and choose which victims of domestic violence are deserving of protection. The proposed House VAWA substitute is a Washington-based solution created without participation from people who work with victims in the field and without any input from House Democrats. Notably, the House substitute omits protections for LGBT victims by removing all references to “gender identity” and “sexual orientation,” despite clear evidence revealing that domestic and sexual violence affects LGBT victims at equal or greater levels than the rest of the population.

In addition, the House VAWA substitute significantly weakens the protections for Native American women. Rather than give tribes the authority they need to protect Indian women, the House substitute limits tribes to charging an abuser with misdemeanors punishable by no more than one year in prison, even if the abuser has committed rape, a vicious assault, or another serious violent crime.

The Republican substitute for VAWA also limits important protection for immigrant victims. Among other problems, the legislation fails to include a Senate provision making “stalking” one of the crimes that would allow a victim to get a U visa. Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill also jeopardizes foreign fiancés by omitting critical protections and enforcement mechanisms designed to properly regulate international marriage brokers.

Apart from these problems, the House Republican substitute of VAWA makes campuses less safe by eliminating important provisions in S. 47 that strengthened programs that help combat and prevent violent sexual crimes on college campuses. The House Republican substitute eliminates the SAFER Act, which would provide law enforcement with the critical resources it needs to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence are brought to justice. The Republican substitute removes the bipartisan reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act which provides essential protections for victims, as well as tools and resources for victims service providers and law enforcement.

Due to these concerns, the House Republican substitute is opposed by groups including the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the National Congress of American Indians, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and members of the Senate.

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