Floor Updates

Senator Klobuchar: (12:01 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "Six years ago we passed a reauthorization bill out of the Judiciary Committee, and the bill has the support of 58 senators, including six Republicans. I'm glad that this bill has continued to attract bipartisan support. I wish it was unanimous. Just seven years ago, in fact, the reauthorization bill passed the House by a vote of 415-4 and it passed the senate by unanimous consent with 18 Republican cosponsors. I know that this year some of my Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are not supportive of this bill, but it is my hope that while they may disagree with the bill, they will not stop this bipartisan bill from advancing. Combating domestic violence and sexual assault is an issue that we should all be able to agree on. Many of the provisions in the reauthorization bill made important changes to the current law. The bill consolidates duplicative programs and streamlines others. It provides flexibility by adding more purpose areas to the list of allowable uses. It has training for people providing legal assistance to victims and takes steps to address the high rates in Native American communities. The bill also fills some gaps in the system and I'm pleased to say it includes the legislation that I introduced with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to address high tech stalking where stalkers use the internet, video surveillance and bugging to stalk their victims. The bill will give law enforcement better tools for cracking down on stalkers. Just as with physical stalk, high-tech stalking may foreshadow more serious behavior down the road. We need our tools for our law enforcement to be as sophisticated as those who are breaking the law."

Senator Feinstein: (12:09 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "This act is the centerpiece of the federal government's effort to combat domestic violence and sexual assault and it has actually impacted positively response to these crimes at the local, state, and federal level and I hope to show this. The bill authorizes a number of grant programs administered by the Department of Justice and Health and Human Services to provide funding for emergency shelter, counseling, and legal services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking This bill also provides support for state agencies, rape crisis centers, and organizations that provide services to vulnerable women and American women are safer because we took action. Today, more victims report incidents of domestic violence to the police, and the rate of nonfatal partner violence against women has decreased by 53% since this bill went into effect in 1994. These figures are from the Department of Justice. So here we have a 53% decrease in the rate of nonfatal partner violence. The need for the services was highlighted in a recent survey by the centers for disease control which found on average 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. 24 a minute by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of the year now that equates to more than 12 million women and men. In California, my state, 30,000 people access crisis intervention services from one of California's 63 rape crisis centers in 2010 and 2011. These centers primarily rely on federal Violence Against Women Act funding, not state funding, to provide services to victims in communities. In 2009 alone, there were more than 167,000 cases in California in which local, county, or state police officers were called to the scene of a domestic violence complaint. 167,000 cases. that's many."

Senator Murray: (12:21 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "Since it became law 18 years ago, domestic violence has decreased by 53% and while incidents have gone down, reporting of violence and abuse has gone up. more victims are finally coming forward and more women and families are getting the support and the care they need to move themselves out of dangerous situations. As a result of the language in this law, every single state has made stalking a crime and they've strengthened criminal rape statutes. We have made a lot of progress since 1994 but we still have a long way to go. Every single minute, 24 people across America are victims of violence by an intimate partner. More than 12 million people a year. 45% of the women killed in this country die at the hands of their partner and in one day last year, victims of domestic violence made more than 10,000 requests for supports and services that could not be met because programs didn't have the resources. That's why I was so proud to cosponsor and strongly support the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, and it's why I join my colleagues today in expressing our hope that we can move this critical legislation when possible. This is a bipartisan bill that will advance our efforts to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assaults, and stalking. It will give our law enforcement agencies the support they need to enforce and prosecute those crimes, and it will give communities and nonprofits the much-needed resources to support victims of violence and most importantly, to keep working to stop violence before it ever starts. This bill was put forward in a bipartisan fashion. It is supported by hundreds of national and local organizations that deal with this issue every day. It consolidates programs to reduce administrative costs. It adds accountability to make sure tax money is well spent. it builds on what works in the current law, improves what does not, and will help our country continue on the path of reducing violence towards women and, it should not be controversial. We reauthorized this law last time here in the Senate unanimously by voice vote, and President Bush signed it into law with Democrats standing there with him. So I am really hopeful that the bipartisan approach to this issue continues today as we work to reauthorize this law once again, because, this shouldn't be about politics. Protecting women against violence should not be a partisan issue. So I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans who've worked together to write this bill. I'm very glad it passed through committee. I stand ready to support this bill when it comes to the floor and I truly hope we can get President Obama for his signature in a timely fashion so women and families across this country can get the resources and support that this law will deliver."

Senator Hagan: (12:26 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "Since its original passage in 1994, the bill has made tremendous progress in protecting women from domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bill has transformed our criminal justice system and victim support services. It has encouraged collaboration among law enforcement, health and housing professionals, and community organizations to prevent and respond to domestic partner violence and it has funded programs, such as services training officers, prosecutors. It is training officers and prosecutors, and these are called stop grants, and they are used to train personnel, training, technical assistance and other equipment to better apprehend and prosecute individuals who commit violence, crimes against women. Unfortunately, until Congress takes action on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the well-being of women across our country hangs in the balance. I see this as a serious lapse in our responsibility as U.S. senators and as a mother of two daughters, I am here to tell you that this reauthorization cannot wait. The rates of violence and abuse in our country are astounding and unacceptable. According to a 2010 CDC survey, domestic violence alone affects more than 12 million people each year. In the year leading up to the CDC's study, 1.3 million women were raped and this study shows that women are severely affected by sexual violence, intimate partner violence and stalking, with 1-4 women falling victim to severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Domestic violence also haze significant - also has a significant impact on our country's health, costing our health system alone over $8.3 billion each year. The reauthorization of this act strengthens and streamlines crucial existing programs that really protect women. In fact, title 5 of the reauthorization includes a bill that I sponsored titled health-focused programs while strengthening the health care system's response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This initiative fosters public health responses to domestic violence and sexual violence. It provides training and education to help the health professionals respond to what they're seeing from violence and abuse, and it supports research on effective public health approaches to end violence against women."

Senator Murkowski: (12:34 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Violence Against Women Act is an important commitment to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, that they are not alone. This is a promise that resources and expertise are available to prosecute those who would torment them, and also a reason to believe that one can actually leave an abusive situation and transition to a more stable one. It's one of the greatest importance that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are confident that there is a safety net available to address them and their immediate survival needs as well as the needs of their children. Only on this level of confidence can one muster the courage to leave an abusive situation. these are some of the promises that are contained within the violence against women act ... The Violence Against Women Act I think is a ray of hope for those who service victims of domestic violence and sexual assault within our villages. It devotes increased resources to rural and isolated communities. It recognizes Alaska village public safety officer program as law enforcement so that VAWA funds can be directed to providing a full-time law enforcement presence in places that currently have none and it establishes a framework to restart the Alaska rural justice and law enforcement commission. This is an important forum for coordination between law enforcement and our Alaska native leaders to abate, discourage domestic violence and sexual assault."

Senator Mikulski: (12:40 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence. 16 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year. 23 million will be victims of physical or sexual violence. 20,000 in my own state of Maryland. Since we created the legislation in 1994, the hotline, the national hotline has received over one million calls. When women felt that they were in danger, danger, so that one million - those one million people had a chance of being rescued and who was the biggest request for passing the violence against women? It is not only the women of America, it is also local police. One out of four police officers killed in the line of duty are responding to domestic violence. They love the lethality index. When they go to a home, they have a checklist to determine how dangerous is that situation? Is it simply a spat or a dispute or are they in the danger zone? We debate big issues - war and peace, the deficit. All these are important but we have got to remember our communities and our families, and I think if you are beaten and abused, you should be able to turn to your government to either be rescued and put you on the path and also to have those very important programs early on to do prevention and intervention. I fund this bill. I stand ready to support the passage of the bill and putting the money in the checkbook to support it."

Senator Shaheen: (12:43 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "It provides essential services to women and families across the united states, and I have seen it in my home state of New Hampshire where one program that I want to talk about funds services, training officers and prosecution. It is called STOP. It provides law enforcement the tools they need to combat domestic violence."