Floor Updates

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Apr 26 2012 9:30 AM

The Senate Convened.

Hutchison, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Apr 26 2012 9:51 AM

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill. The time until 11:30 AM will be equally divided and for debate only, with the Republicans controlling the first 45 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 45 minutes.
    • At 11:30 AM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 30 minutes of debate, equally divided, on:
      1. Executive Calendar #509, Gregg Jeffrey Costa, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas; and
      2. Executive Calendar #510, David Campos Guaderrama, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas.
    • At 12:00 PM, the Senate will conduct 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on the nominations.
    • Following the ROLL CALL VOTES, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill, and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized.

Senator Hutchison: (9:33 AM)
  • Honored Joel Olsteen, Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

Senator McConnell: (9:37 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Senate is now debating the Violence Against Women Act. We began debate on this legislation by consent, and we'd like to complete action on this legislation also by consent. We've been working to enter into an efficient consent agreement with only a couple of relevant amendments and very short time agreements for processing them. This approach is in keeping with how Republicans have handled VAWA in the past. This approach would also allow us to complete the bill today. These relevant amendments would give the Senate the opportunity to strengthen the law, especially in terms of the punishment for those who commit violence against women. As my friend, the Majority Leader, noted yesterday, a good way to lower the incidents of violent crime is to incarcerate those who commit it. We couldn't agree more, and we'd like the chance to improve the law in that respect."
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Army Captain Daniel Utley, who was killed in Mali on April 20, 2012.

Sessions, Johnson-WI, McCain

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 10:37 AM

Senator Sessions: (9:51 AM)
  • Spoke on the 3rd Anniversary since the Democratic-led Senate passed a budget.
    • SUMMARY "At this time of financial crisis, the majority in the Senate refuse to perform its legally required duty and moral responsibility to produce a budget plan. It's part of the United States Code in 1974, the Budget Act. A budget requires also as a part of that act only 51 votes to pass. It cannot be filibustered. It's given a priority. In 1974, Congress obviously was disappointed that we weren't moving forward effectively with budgets and that a budget is crucial to the financial stability of a nation, and that's why they passed the Budget Act. And it said, you can't filibuster it in the Senate. It's guaranteed right to have a vote. It's required to be brought up in committee by the April 1 . and that's what the statute requires. Unfortunately, it doesn't require that Congress goes to jail if it doesn't pass one or perhaps as Senator Heller from Nevada suggests, maybe Congress ought not to be paid if they don't pass a budget. Maybe that would be a reform that would be good for us. So the majority refused to bring up a budget, even attempt to pass a budget, this year and as they refused to do the past two years, two years before that. So the absence of a budget is not simply a case of inaction. The Senate majority has pursued a systematic, deliberate, and determined policy - I believe a politically driven policy - to keep a budget off the floor. Why? To shield its conference from public accountability and to attempt to during this period of financial danger. The worst possible time not to have a budget, not to have a plan, not to stand up and tell the American people what your vision financially for the country is would be in a time of deep financial crisis, when we are on an unsustainable path. So we're not willing to even see a plan. They are not willing to present a financial future of America. And when criticized about it, the White House says one thing, Speaker Pelosi another one, the Democratic Leader here has another explanation. None of them are coherent and none of them make real sense. Why, I guess it's because there is no explanation. There can be no justifiable reason why this responsibility is not fulfilled. They said, well, maybe one day - maybe it wouldn't pass ultimately. Maybe we wouldn't agree. But the House - Republican House felt it's responsibility to comply with the law and it has for the last two years - last year and will again this year - lay out a long-term plan for America that changes our debt course and puts us on a financial path to stability. That's responsibility. Oh, yes, the Senate called it up here, for what reason? Just so they can attack it and bring it down. But not to lay out any plan of their own. When Senator McConnell called up President Obama's budget last year, said, let's see if you want to vote for that. You voted against the House budget and attacked Paul Ryan and his colleagues for the historic work they put into drafting their budget. Let's see what you think about your President's budget. It went down 97-0, not a single member voted for it."

Senator Johnson-WI: (10:07 AM)
  • Spoke on the 3rd Anniversary since the Democratic-led Senate passed a budget.
    • SUMMARY "The United States Senate has not fulfilled a basic responsibilities. It is required by law to pass a budget by April 15 of every year. It's a reasonable requirement. It's a reasonable responsibility. The House Republicans fulfilled this responsibility. They put forward a plan. They've shown the American people what they would do to solve our looming debt and deficit problem. The United States Senate hasn't. Why hasn't the majority here in the Senate passed a budget? They have all the votes. They have them in the Budget Committee to refer a budget to the floor. They have the votes. They have the number of members on the floor of the Senate to pass a budget. Why do they refuse? Is it because they have no solutions to our problem? Or is it they have a solution, they simply don't want the American people to know what it is. Trust us, we'll take care of us. Is it also because they don't want their fingerprints on that solution? They don't want to be held accountable? I think more likely that's the reason we haven't passed a budget here in the Senate for three years now. I guess they could claim that President Obama's budget is their plan, but the problem with that is President Obama's last two budgets have been so unserious, last year his budget lost in this body, the United States Senate, by a vote of 0-97. Not one member of the President's own party gave it a vote. As a matter of fact, not one member of the party, of the President's own party was willing to bring that budget to the floor for a vote. Republicans had to do that. And now this year's budget, three weeks ago in the House of Representatives, again the President's budget was brought forward to the House by a Republican - not a Democrat. It lost 0-97. Again I ask the American people, think about that. Think about what a stunning Repudiation that is of leadership. What it really represents is a total abdication of leadership. The American people deserve better. They deserve far better. They deserve to see a plan. They deserve to have a choice. The president now has put forward four budgets. He has yet to propose any solution to save social security or to save Medicare. Again, the house has provided that plan. They passed a budget. They have been responsible. Republicans have been willing to be held accountable. That's our job. It is well past time for the United States Senate to fulfill its responsibility, to bring a budget to the floor. Not just vote on one, but work on it, and pass one so that we can go to conference and we can reconcile that with the house budget that the United States finally after three years will start operating under a budget in the next fiscal year."

Senator McCain: (10:26 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Violence Against Women Act represents a national commitment to reversing the legacy of laws and social norms that once served to shamefully excuse violence towards women, a commitment that should be maintained. Whatever differences we might have over particular provisions in the bill, surely we are united in our concern for the victims of violence in our determination to do all that we can to prevent violence against the innocent regardless of gender. I recognize that women suffer disproportionately from particular forms of violence and other abuse which this legislation is intended to address. And I believe it does address and that's why I support it. But our motivation to act on their behalf resides in our respect for the rights of all human beings, male and female, all races, creeds, and ages a, to be secure in their persons and property, to be protected by their government from violent harm at the hand of another, to live without threat or fear in the exercise of their god-given rights. Similarly, whatever our political differences in this body, I trust we all believe we are doing what we think best serves the interests and values of the American people, all of the American people. I don't think either party is entitled to speak or act exclusively for one demographic of our population, one class, one race, or one gender. The security and prosperity of all Americans is a shared responsibility, and each of us discharges it to the best of our ability. We don't have male and female pretty well parties. And we don't need to accuse each other of caring less for the concerns of one half of the population than we do for the other half. The truth is both parties have presided over achievements and increases in opportunity for women ... Both parties have made progress towards ensuring Americans, male and female, have an equal opportunity to succeed as far as their talents and industry can many policies, from changes to our tax codes to changes in education policy, to improvements in workplace environments, as well as from changes in cultural attitudes in both the public and the private sector. Do we always agree? Do we always get it right? No, we don't. But I do think there is much for all of us to be proud of. Regrettably, and there's always something to regret in politics, we have seen too many attempts to resolve inequities in our society and ensure all Americans are afforded the same respect for their rights and aspirations misappropriated for the purpose of partisan advantage which has the perverse effect, of course, of dividing the country in the name of greater fairness and unity. My friends, this supposed war on women or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are political in their purpose and effect. The first purely political - the first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter. And the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television. Neither purpose does anything to advance the well-being of any American."

Mikulski, Boxer, Cantwell, Klobuchar, Schumer, Hutchison

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 11:42 AM

Senator Mikulski: (10:37 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Violence Against Women Act authorizes two federal programs for domestic and sexual violence in our communities. The Department of Justice and the Department of Human Services. The stop grants is the largest national grant program in the Justice Department. Roughly half of all violence against women funds go to these stop grants, and they go to every community. And what is it they do? They coordinate community approaches to end violence and sexual assault. They fund victims services like shelters in the toll-free crisis hotline. And they fund legal assistance to victims to be able to get court orders to be able to protect themselves from the abuser or from the stalker. It also includes training for police officers, prosecutors and judges, so they know how to do a good job. Victims of child abuse grants, something that I'm very familiar with, having been a child abuse social worker. And also important services in terms of rape prevention programs. This is a great bill, and it meets a compelling human need. Since the original Biden legislation, over one million women have called that hotline that were desperate, that were fearful for their life. And when they called that number, they didn't get a busy signal. They didn't get hung up on. They got help. And I know that it saved lives. One in four women will be victims of domestic violence during her lifetime. One in four. 16 million children are exposed to domestic violence. And also one in six women have experienced attempted or completed rape. And even men now are the subject of rape."

Senator Boxer: (10:49 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "For some reason our Republican friends, although we have 61 people as cosponsors, are slowing it down and it seems to me very clear that if they didn't have objections, we could pass this by voice vote. Three women are killed by their abusive partners every single day. I'm going to repeat that. Three women today will be killed by their abusive husbands, and for every woman who is killed, there are nine more who are beaten or injured, every single day. In the name of the three women who will be killed today - we should pass this unanimously, unanimously. Now, has the Violence Against Women Act worked? Yes. Incidences of domestic violence have decreased by 63% since we passed that law. Why on earth when three women are killed every day and nine women are injured sometimes to the point of almost losing their life, why on earth when a bill has brought down domestic violence by 53% would there be objection? There is no reason, no reason whatsoever. You go back to the votes on the bill in the past. Overwhelming votes every time. 47 attorney generals signed a bipartisan letter supporting the reauthorization."

Senator Cantwell: (10:57 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I come here to stand with my colleagues who are here, the women of the senate, to say that we are standing up for women across America. We want the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and today we want to tell victims of domestic violence that they are not alone. We have to make sure that we are giving the tools to local governments, to law enforcement, the things that they need to protect the victims of domestic violence. Today we're here with a clear message to the victims of domestic violence, and that is we will stand with you. And that we haven't forgotten and we're not going to let this bill be bogged down in political fighting, but we are going to make sure that we continue to move ahead. We already have the support of 61 senators, many attorney generals and countless law enforcement officials who are working to make sure that these victims have an advocate. But we know that there is still opposition that remains, so I want to make sure we address those concerns today ... People like Carissa, one of my constituents who was in an abusive relationship. She was allowed to flee with her then-three-year-old daughter in 1998. She joined me to highlight the fact that the programs, the shelter and the help in starting a new life helped her escaped that life of abuse ... I sponsored the International Board Act. It empowered foreign-born fee an says to learn if their spouse had a history of violent crime and it now has become part of the reauthorization that is this bill today. It includes enhancements that require marriage broker agencies to provide foreign fee and says with a record of any domestic violence that they are potential spouse might have engaged in. That way we can stop the abuse before it begins. Opponents who say that the Violence Against Women Act would create immigration fraud and give funds to those who don't need it should consider the story of Anastasia King and Sue Susanna. Their lives could have been saved had the provisions been in place. We should not deny immigrant women or trafficking resources the resources to prevent abuse. Nor should we create barriers to them to get the safety they need. That's why we they'd to pass the violence against women act. And we also need make it clear that Native American women will receive protection."

Senator Klobuchar: (11:06 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Many of us have worked to build upon the many important improvements that the past two VAWA reauthorizations have made in reducing violence. And I would note many things were added, including one of the issues here today, the new visas were added on a bipartisan basis in the 2000 reauthorization. Many of the issues regarding American Indian women were considered in the past. So we are simply building on the past bills and we have worked with our Republican cosponsors to make sure that there was a general agreement on any additions that were made to the bill, and they were all made for very good reasons. And as you've heard today, to help women who need the help. But despite these improvements that we've seen in the numbers, make no mistake about it, violence against women is still a problem. A recent survey by the National Network to end domestic violence helps us to illustrate both the progress we've made as well as the work that's still left to be done. On just one day last year - just look at this as a benchmark - one day last year, September 15, in the state of Minnesota, 54 Minnesota domestic violence programs reported serving 735 victims in emergency shelters or transitional housing and 670 adults and children through the individual counseling, legal advocacy, or children's support group. That's a total of 1,405 victims in one day in one state. On that same day, there were 807 calls to domestic violence hot-lines which provide emergency support, information safety planning, and resources for victims in danger. That works out to 33 calls per hour in a 24-hour period, and that is in one state of the 50 states. Because of the Violence Against Women Act, on just one day last year, all of these victims were able to get access to services that theymay not have been able to get before VAWA. But one other number from that survey caught my eye. In just one day, 315 requests for services were unmet. 83% of those unmet requests were for housing. And what's the reason for these unmet requests? The Minnesota organizations reported that they didn't have enough things like staff, beds, translators or other specialized services. Think about that. In just one day in one state, 315 people were unable to get the help that they need. And that means we still have work to do."

Senator Schumer: (11:14 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The so-called alternative would take Violence Against Women and replace it with a different program. This program has worked. It needs improvements. That's why we're here, but it has worked. You don't start over for ideological or political reasons. Most notably in the act, for my colleagues across the aisle, the word women has been taken out of the program that forms the cornerstone of the Violence Against Women Act, and the word has been replaced with victim. Now, no one here would argue against the principle that all violent crimes, all domestic crimes are tragic and serious, but this so-called substitute negates centuries of women's experience that proves that violence against women, especially violence caused by spouses and partners and family members, is a uniquely pernicious and entrenched practice, one that hasn't even always been illegal. There was never a rule of thumb that governed the size of the stick that wives could use to beat their husbands, and that sums it up in a nutshell. Men were never banned from juries. Men were never not on police forces and prosecutor's offices. It is this horrific and shameful history to which we responded in 1994 when we first crafted the Violence Against Women Act. And there is another point to be made here. Anyone who respects the proper role of the federal government in fighting crime should recognize that it is entirely rational for us to limit our police powers and funding in this area to a particular type of crime, one that has civil rights implications, one that has been hard for states and localities to prosecute without special support and training. That's why there is no substitute for the Violence Against Women Act. Now, there are a number of priorities that have been included in the bill that I've cared a lot about, making sure that sexual assault victims do not have to pay for their own forensic exams. The last reauthorization took some steps. We go further. Second, VAWA having contributed immensely to our understanding and prevention of domestic violence has been reinvigorated and retargeted at sexual assault crimes. Many aspects of the new bill will improve the law enforcement training and victim support. Third, it expands programs that are available to victims in law enforcement in rural and underserved areas. Extremely important to upstate New York which has one of the largest rural populations in the country. And fourth, as I mentioned, Senator Leahy and Senator Crapo should be applauded for including more overnight and accountability for programs in this bill and find a way to trim the authorization by 20% by consolidating programs where it makes sense."

Senator Klobuchar: (11:21 AM)
  • Honored the late-Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife, Sheila Wellstone, for their work on domestic violence issues.

Senator Hutchison: (11:27 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I want to say clearly today that the amendment that I am producing with Senator Grassley and many other cosponsors builds on the sentiments that the Chairman expressed yesterday. It should seem very simple to me that what the Republicans are asking is that our substitute, which has many cosponsors because we believe it improves on the underlying bill, and one amendment by Senator Cornyn that adds much to the bill, helping to get the backlog of these rape kits put forward so that we can stop people who are perpetrating these crimes from being out loose, doing it again when we have the proof that has not been yet tested because of the backlog, there are some things that can be done to improve this bill. Senator Mikulski and I worked together on funding the Justice Department, and in our bill, we do add to the capability for the Justice Department to give the grants that would make that backlog smaller. Senator Cornyn's amendment even improves on that. So what's not to like about two other approaches that would add to this bill so that we can get this bill passed or one version of it, go to conference with the House and really address the issues. No one is arguing that we shouldn't pass a Violence Against Women Act. The question is can we make it even better? And if so, why not? Why not have the kind of debate that we have on this floor that does that? So I think it's important that we produce the best possible product Our bill strengthens the U.S. Marshals Service's capabilities to attach to wherever these thugs might be who are doing these heinous crimes and by also add our bill has a strengthening of the rape kit issue that Senator Cornyn is trying to get able to offer as an amendment to Senator Leahy's bill, the majority bill. Senator Cornyn has been trying for a long time to strengthen the ability to stop this backlog and let the rape kits tested so that the perpetrators, we have the evidence to get them so they will not commit these crimes against other innocent people."

Leahy, Hutchison, Leahy

Executive Session

Apr 26 2012 12:03 PM

Senator Leahy: (11:38 AM)
  • Spoke on the Costa and Guaderrama nominations.
    • SUMMARY "Senate Republicans have simply refused to move promptly to confirm consensus nominees. These are nominees like so many of President Obama's nominated who are qualified, they enjoy bipartisan support, made to wait and wait and wait and wait before finally being able to be confirmed. It's a destructive development. It's a new practice in the Senate. I can say this is one, I've served here during the presidencies of President Ford, President Carter, President Reagan, President George H.W. bush, President Clinton, President George W. Bush, now President Obama. This new practice has kept the Senate behind the curve, it's kept federal judicial vacancies unfilled, it's overburdened the federal courts, it's kept Americans from getting prompt justice. I want to share with the Senate and the American people a chart. Look at this chart. This compares vacancies during the term of President Bush and President Obama. I mention this because look at where the vacancies were when President Bush came in. For a short time I was chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, President Bush was President. Even though 60 nominees had been pocket filibustered of President Clinton's, I said we're going to change the routine. Look how quickly I brought the vacancies down, way down, under President Bush. I then worked with the Republicans to bring them down further, even though they did not move as fast on President bush's nominees as I had. And back when I was Chairman again, still continued to bring it down. But then what happened when President Obama came in, all of a sudden they said, well, this is great that you brought down the vacancies under President Bush, and we're glad to have the vacancies under President Bush come down, but now the vacancies are going to come back with President Obama. Two qualified nominees, I agree these are highly qualified nominees from Texas. They were passed out of our committee way last year. They should have been confirmed last year. They are typical consensus, noncontroversial nominees. Delayed for no good reason. In fact, we have 24 judicial nominations currently before the Senate. I've heard them say, well, the President has to send up more nominees. Why don't we confirm the 24 that are sitting here on the calendar waiting for final vote? We have others, working through the committee process. In fact, ten of those nominations that have been pending the longest, every single Democrat in this body has signed off on them. Ten that have been pending the longest are all to fill judicial emergency vacancies."

Senator Hutchison: (11:45 AM)
  • Spoke on the Costa and Guaderrama nominations.
    • SUMMARY "I do want to say that Mr. Costa asked not to be confirmed until after the case that he was working on was finished. And his case was the prosecution of Robert Allen Stanford, who swindled so many Texans of money in which they had invested, Texans and Americans, frankly - he was all over the country in his representation - and Mr. Costa asked not to be confirmed until he could finish that case because it was complicated and he was the lead on it. So there has been no delay on our part at all on his nomination. And as I understand it, we have confirmed roughly the same number of district judges as President George Bush and President Clinton did in their first terms, and to my knowledge, we're not holding up nominations at all. And, in fact, of course, Senator Cornyn and I both highly recommended Mr. Costa and Mr. Guaderrama to the President for his nomination because we have a process that assures that we nominate to the President the most qualified people who would fill these spots. And we have a bipartisan legal committee that vets them, people who know the legal community in Texas and so, therefore, they know the reputations of these lawyers and our committee system has worked very well. I did it with Senator Graham. I do it with Senator Cornyn. And we agree on the quality of these nominees. So I don't think there's a delay here and I'm very pleased to be able to have nominated these two fine lawyers to the President."

Senator Leahy: (11:58 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The National Task Force to end sexual and domestic violence against women, which represents dozens of organizations from across the country, says "the Grassley-Hutchison substitute was drafted without input or consultation from the thousands of professionals engaged in this work every day. The substitute includes damaging and unworkable provisions that will harm victims, increase costs, and create unnecessary inefficiencies." Now, I know that it was well-intentioned by its lead sponsors, but the Republican proposal is no substitute for the months of work we have done in a bipartisan way, both Republicans and Democrats coming together working with victims and advocates from all over the country. And I regret to say that the Republican proposal undermines core principles of the Violence Against Women Act. It would result in abandoning some of the most vulnerable victims and strips out key provisions that are critically necessary to protect all victims, including battered immigrants, native women and victims in same-sex relationships. The improvements in the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, they're gone from the Republican proposal. It is no substitute. It does nothing to meet the needs of victims."

Apr 26 2012 12:26 PM

Confirmed, 97-2:
Executive Calendar #509, Gregg Jeffrey Costa, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Apr 26 2012 12:27 PM

Confirmed by Voice Vote:
Executive Calendar #510, David Campos Guaderrama, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas.

Reid, Blumenthal, Grassley, Akaka

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 1:26 PM

Senator Reid: (12:25 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill. The time until 2:30 PM will be equally divided and for debate only.
    • At 2:30 PM, Majority Leader Reid will be recognized (without objection).

Senator Blumenthal: (12:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "This bill provides resources to help a number of organizations in Connecticut fulfill their vital mission to protect more than 54,000 domestic violence victims in Connecticut alone. Organizations in Connecticut received nearly $5 million in fiscal year 2011 from the Violence Against Women Act, but many domestic programs in Connecticut and around the country are reporting huge staff shortages and resources needs that are necessary to respond to the hundreds of thousands of women in need. It is truly an epidemic in this country that we must counter and fight just as we would an epidemic of infectious bacteria or other kinds of insidious sources. VAWA would give these service providers the resources they need to protect women, men, children, victims of domestic and sexual violence. And we have the opportunity to commit to end domestic violence with updates and stronger measures in this act. First on accountability. I'm pleased that S. 1925 builds on the accountability provisions in current law so we can make sure that VAWA grant money is used effectively and efficiently to support victims. On internet abuse, a new frontier in the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault, we must strengthen provisions dealing with internet abuse to protect women and others from those kinds of threats, intimidation, harassment, even physical assaults facilitated by the internet. Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking can be even more dangerous and more threatening on the internet age, requiring broader and stronger protection. We must protect the thousands of women who fall victim every year to violent crimes facilitated by cyber stalking and impersonation with consequences that are truly horrific and reprehensible The law also focuses on vulnerable populations. As we strengthen VAWA, we must ensure that all victims of domestic violence are protected and have access to the services that they need. Although VAWA has been strengthened and updated in every past reauthorization, the needs of some of our most vulnerable communities still have not been fully addressed There are protections in addition, broader protections for Native American communities. This bill makes great improvements to the law enforcement tools available to Native American populations."

Senator Grassley: (12:47 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I have supported reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act each time that it has come up. Violence Against Women reauthorization on each of the reauthorizations has been highly bipartisan. We have passed consensus bills. We have not played politics with reauthorizing the law. That's until now. This time it seems to be different. I don't know why it should be. The majority turned this issue into a partisan issue. In the Judiciary Committee, the majority gave no notice that it would inject new matters into the Violence Against Women Act. When the Committee held a hearing on this issue, these ideas were not discussed. Their need has not been demonstrated. We do not know exactly how they will work. It was clear that Committee Republicans would not be able to agree to this new added material and of course, a majority refused during negotiations when we asked that they be removed. Republicans will be offering a substitute amendment to the Leahy bill. Probably 80% to 85% of the substitute that we're offering is the same as the Leahy bill. This includes whole titles of the bill. We could have again reached a near consensus bill to reauthorize violence against women, but the majority intentionally decided not to change the bill. They didn't want it to pass with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. Now the media has reported that this was a deliberate strategy of the majority. A recent political article quoted a prominent Democrat senator. The article said that "wants to fast track the bill to the floor, let the GOP block it, then allow Democrats to accuse Republicans of waging a war against women, end of political quote. This is a cynical partisan game playing that Americans are sick of."

Senator Akaka: (1:11 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Since its enactment in 1994, VAWA has enhanced the investigation and prosecution of incidents of domestic and sexual violence and provided critical services to victims and their advocates in court. It has truly been a life line for women across the country, regardless of location, race, or socioeconomic status. For these reasons, VAWA's two prior reauthorizations were overwhelmingly bipartisan. This year, however, a number of my colleagues are opposing the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization because they object to, among other things, the authority that it restores to Native American tribes to prosecute those who commit violent crimes against Native women. This bill's tribal provisions address the epidemic rates of violence against Native women by enabling VAWA programs to more directly and promptly respond to their concerns and needs. These tribal provisions are critical to the lives of native women and doubly important to me as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and a native Hawaiian. Native women are two and a half times more likely than other U.S. women to be battered or raped. These are extremely disturbing statistics. 34% of native women will be raped in their lifetimes. And 39% will suffer domestic violence. That's more than one out of every three native women. We must come together to put a stop to this ... S. 1925's tribal provisions empower tribal courts to prosecute crimes of domestic violence, dating violence or violations of protection orders regardless of the race of the alleged abuser. This bill also strengthens research in programs to address sex trafficking. Since VAWA was enacted 18 years ago and reauthorized twice since then, the hallmark of the law is that it has expanded its protections to classes of once neglected victims. Accordingly, S. 1925's tribal provisions are consistent with VAWA's history as well as its intents and purpose which past congresses have embraced."

Lee, Franken, Manchin, Hagan

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 1:52 PM

Senator Lee: (1:21 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I rise to speak about our federalist structure and the real danger of the federal government unduly interfering with the ability of states and localities to address activities and concerns in their communities. Everyone agrees that violence against women is reprehensible. The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization has the honorable goal of assisting victims of domestic violence, but it oversteps the constitution's rightful limits on federal power. It interferes with the flexibility of states and localities that they should have in tailoring programs to meet particular needs of individual communities. And it fails to address problems of duplication and inefficiency. First, violent crimes are regulated and enforced almost exclusively by state governments. In fact, domestic violence is one of the few activities that the Supreme Court of the United States has specifically said that Congress may not regulate under the commerce clause. As a matter of constitutional policy, Congress should not seek to impose rules and standards as conditions for federal funding in areas where the federal government lacks constitutional authority to regulate directly. Second, the strings that Congress attaches to federal funding in the VAWA reauthorization restrict each state's ability to govern itself. Rather than interfering with state and local programs under the guise of spending federal tax dollars, Congress should allow states and localities to exercise their rightful responsibility over domestic violence. State and local leaders should have flexibility in enforcing state law and tailoring victims' services to the individualized needs of their communities rather than having to comply with one-size-fits all federal requirements. Third, even if the federal government had a legitimate role in administering VAWA grant programs, the current reauthorization fails to address many instances of duplication and overlap. Among VAWA and other programs operated by the department of justice and by the department of health and human services. Nor does it address the grant management failings identified by the government accountability office. My opposition to the current VAWA reauthorization is a vote against big government and inefficient spending. And a vote in favor of state autonomy and local control. We must not allow a desire by some to score political points and an appetite for federal spending to prevent states and localities from efficiently and effectively serving women and other victims of domestic violence."

Senator Franken: (1:24 PM)
  • Honored the late-Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife, Sheila Wellstone, for their work on domestic violence issues.
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The VAWA reauthorization act renews our national commitment to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual assault, a heinous crime that remains all-too common in America, even while domestic violence is becoming less common. The VAWA reauthorization act addresses the alarming rates of violence against women in Indian country, by giving tribes jurisdiction to prosecute acts of domestic violence in their communities. And vat with a reauthorization act - and the VAWA Reauthorization Act cuts red tape and spending by consolidating grant programs and improving accountability This is a good bill. I am also proud to have worked on two provisions. I will like to thank chairman leachy for giving me to do so and for including those provisions in the final bill. First, the VAWA Reauthorization bill includes the provision from the justice for survivors of sexual assault act, one of the first bills I wrote after being sworn into the senate. Survivors of sexual assault never again will suffer the indignity of pain for reining sick medical exams. VAWA provides state and local governments with funding to administer these exams which also are known as rape kits and are used to collect evidence in sexual assault cases. The problem is that under current law, grant recipients can charge the survivor for the upfront cost of administering the exam, leaving the survivor to seek reimbursement later. Too often survivors aren't reimbursed. They get lost in the maze of paperwork or are left high and dry when funds run out. Can you imagine if we required crime victims to pay for the police to gather evidence, like fingerprints or DNA from a crime scene? Of course not. And we shouldn't require victims you have sexual assault to pay for rape kits. This is common sense The VAWA Reauthorization bill also includes the housing rights for victims of domestic and sexual violence act This bill will help women stay in their homes when they are most vulnerable, when they need a roof over their heads the most."

Senator Manchin: (1:38 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I am a proud sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, as most of my colleagues here in this body, because it is unfathomable that any individual could oppose efforts that women and children are free from violence. The bill would reauthorize several essential grant programs that have made a tremendous difference in my state great of West Virginia and across this nation The Violence Against Women Act is the most critical piece of federal legislation affecting the safety of survivors of domestic violence and their children in every county of West Virginia. The law supports cost-effective responses to the crimes of domestic violence. VAWA funds innovative, successful programs that are the core of our nation's response to domestic violence. Sexual assault, dating violence action echoes through the hills of most remote communities. Without have a washings the efforts of law enforcement, victim advocates and judicial personnel would be fragments. Compartmentalized and worse counterproductive to each other. VAWA saves lives. It changes communities, it offers safety and creates chance of hope."

Senator Hagan: (1:45 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Since VAWA was originally passed in 1994, the annual incidents of domestic violence has decreased by 53%. Many victims, rather than hiding in fear, are now reporting incidents of abuse. Reports of abuse have increased by 51%, and this law has transformed our criminal justice system and victim support systems. The law has worked well because it encourages collaboration among law enforcement, health and housing professionals and community organizations to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence ... Unfortunately, though, the well-being of women in North Carolina and around the country hangs in balance until we in Congress take action on this act. Domestic violence also hurts our economy. It costs our health care system $8.3 billion each year. The reauthorization of this act streamlines crucial existing programs that protect women while recognizing the difficult fiscal decisions facing the federal government today. 13 existing programs would be consolidated to four, which will reduce administrative costs and avoid duplication. New accountability provisions will also require strict audits and enforcement mechanisms to aim to ensure that these funds are used wisely and efficiently. In fact, title 5 of this bill includes one of my bills, the violence against women health initiative. My bill provides vital training and education to help health care providers better identify the signs of domestic violence and sexual assault. It helps medical professionals assess violence and then refers patients to the appropriate victim services."

Vitter, Udall-CO, Crapo, Murkowski

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 2:14 PM

Senator Vitter: (1:50 PM)
  • Spoke on the National Flood Insurance program.
    • SUMMARY "Right now, that is due to completely expire at the end of May, so I wanted to bring this to everyone's attention, particularly that of the Majority Leader, so we take this up in time, as soon as possible, put it in line absolutely as soon as possible so that this can be extended and there will be no interruption. This is an important program for the country. It provides vital flood insurance for millions of Americans. Many of those properties cannot have a real estate closing on them, cannot be transferred without that important flood insurance, and it's particularly important in my home state of Louisiana where the risks of flooding, coastal and otherwise, are even greater than the national average. Now, unfortunately, we have been on a path the last few years of just barely hobbling along, really using a band-aid approach to extend this necessary program just a little bit at a time. This got to its worst state in 2010 when we not only extended it just a little bit at a time but we actually allowed it to lapse, to expire for several days at a time on four different occasions, a total of 53 days. Now, what happened? Each of those times, the program expired, many, many real estate closings, tens of thousands of real estate closings around the country came to a screeching halt. They were canceled, they were put off. Here we are in a very soft economy, trying to eke out of a real estate-led recession, and yet for no good reason, because of our inability to, frankly, get our act together and organize ourselves and extend this noncontroversial program, we had lapses in the program and thousands of real estate closings were put off. That lapse occurred, as I said, in 2010, four different times for a total of 53 days. Since then we have improved a little bit. We have extended the program for six months at a time under legislation I have introduced, but now we need to take the next step and not just continue to hobble along but have a full reauthorization with important bipartisan reforms of this national flood insurance program."

Senator Udall-CO: (1:58 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "It's made literally a difference in millions of women's lives all over the country by bringing perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse to justice. It's made a difference by providing safe and secure support services to victims of crimes. It's established a national domestic violence hotline, and just so much more. It's little wonder that such a commonsense and far-reaching concept that's in legislation has found support from members of both sides of the aisle Let me give you some numbers. In 2010 alone, 60,000 victims of domestic violence contacted state crisis hotlines to seek help and the funding that VAWA provides not only gives our law perpetrators, it supports critical services for victims and survivors. So the resources literally saved the lives of women and I want to commend all the important organizations in my state that make it all possible. And the great news is that today, right now, we could take an opportunity, grab an opportunity to make this an even better piece of legislation."

Senator Crapo: (2:01 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "For nearly 18 years, the Violence Against Women Act has been the centerpiece of our nation's commitment to end domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual violence. Congress authorized the Violence Against Women Act in 2000 and again in 2005 with overwhelming bipartisan support. I'm a long-time champion of the prevention of domestic violence because I've seen the impact of this abuse firsthand in Idaho. The act provides critical services to victims of violent crime as well as agencies and organizations who provide important aid to those victims. The Violence Against Women Act has been called by the American Bar Association the single most effective federal effort to respond to the epidemic of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in our country. This legislation provides access to legal and social services for survivors. It provides training to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, attorneys, and advocates to address these crimes in our nation's communities. It provides intervention for those who have witnessed abuse and are more likely to be involved in this type of violence. It provides shelter and resources for victims who have nowhere else to turn, who are literally victims in their own homes."

Senator Murkowski: (2:05 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "This bill establishes a new pro bono legal program within VAWA to ensure that victims of domestic violence have access to lawyers. Back in 2011, 12% of Alaska high school students reported that they were hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or their girlfriend and 9% reported they had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want it. This bill focuses resources on the protection of our young people and rightfully so. Because 70% of all reported sexual crimes in the United States involve children. This legislation devotes needed resources to protect our children and it also devotes increasing resources to protect our elders, who are increasingly victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Again, a side that most people don't want to acknowledge or talk about but our statistics cannot be denied. In addition, S. 1925 sends a message to offenders they will be held accountable. In the remote native villages of Alaska where the victims of domestic violence literally have no place to hide, reauthorization of VAWA will mean that there will be more funds to hire village public safety officers who are first responders in the last frontier. I'd like to express my appreciation to the Judiciary Committee for including a provision that I had requested concerning the Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission. The Rural Justice Commission is a joint federal-state, and tribal planning body. It was created by late Senator Ted Stevens back in 2004 to coordinate the public safety efforts in our remote rural villages. It is in danger of shutting its doors at this point in time and the legislation before us establishes a framework for the rural justice commission to continue. It's very important work. Now, last weekend there was a great deal of concern that arose particularly amongst Alaska tribes that the version of S. 1925 that came out of the Judiciary Committee diminished the ability of the Alaska tribes to issue domestic violence protection orders that would enjoy full faith and credit from the state of Alaska. The concern that we had here was the result of an inadvertent technical drafting error that expanded certain tribal powers within Indian country but it appeared to repeal other existing tribal powers that are currently held by Alaska tribes. Our state has very little Indian country. We do not have reservations with a small exception of one reservation down in southeastern Alaska. So for the past couple days I have been working along with Senator Begich to address this issue. And have worked on a technical correction to address the concern in a way that ensures that Alaska tribes lose none of the jurisdiction or the authority that they tremendously have to issue and to enforce their domestic violence protection orders."

McCaskill, Murray, Reid

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 2:40 PM

Senator McCaskill: (2:13 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Let's make sure that the victim advocates that arrived on the scene as a result of this important piece of legislation, let's make sure they stay on the job. Let's make sure there aren't any young prosecutors today that are going home sleepless, much less victims, that look at someone who claims they love them, claims they're their protector, but at the same time knowing that person is capable of taking their life. Let's make sure that those women have someplace to turn to, their children have someplace to turn to. Let's reauthorize this act today and make sure that all the women out there have that help and assistance they need at their time of need."

Senator Murray: (2:16 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Violence Against Women Act has helped provide lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women and families, and twos certainly a no brainer to make sure that all women had access to that assistance. You know, I was so proud to have been here serving in the Senate in 1994 when we first passed VAWA and along with its bipartisan support, it has received praise now from law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, victims, service providers, faith leaders, health care professions, advocates, survivors. It obtained that broad support because it worked. Since it became law 18 years ago domestic violence decreased by 53%. We made a lot of progress since that and I'm glad we're continuing on that path today on behalf of all women. Debra is here with us, the vice chairman of a tribe in my home state of Washington. Yesterday she joined Senator's Boxer, Klobuchar and me to tell her emotional story about the devastating effects violence can have on women, especially native women. She was repeatedly abused starting at a very young age by a nontribal man who lived on her reservation. And not until after the abuse stopped around the fourth grade did Debra realize she wasn't the only child suffering at the hands of that assailant. At least a dozen other young girls had fallen victim to that man, a man who was never arrested for those crimes, never brought to justice, and still walks free today. All because he committed those heinous acts on a reservation. And as someone who is not a member of a tribe, it is an unfortunate reality that he's unlikely to ever be held liable for his crimes. The debate about this is important and her experience and the experiences of so many, including in the Native American community, are why we have held strong to make sure we have the strongest bill possible."

Senator Reid: (2:22 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The following amendments are in order to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill:
      1. Reid (for Leahy) substitute amendment to Klobuchar amendment #2094 (side-by-side to Cornyn amendment);
      2. Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act); and
      3. Hutchison amendment #2095 (alternative).
    • There will be 60 minutes of debate, equally divided, on the amendments and the bill.
    • Circa 3:25 PM, the Senate will conduct 4 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      1. Klobuchar amendment #2094 (side-by-side to Cornyn amendment);
      2. Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act);
      3. Hutchison amendment #2095 (alternative); and
      4. Passage of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • The Reid (for Leahy) substitute amendment will be Agreed to by Unanimous Consent prior to the ROLL VOTE on passage of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill, as amended, if amended. All amendments will be subject to a 60-vote threshold (without objection).

Kyl , Lautenberg, Leahy, Cornyn, Shaheen, Hutchison, Menendez, Klobuchar

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 3:31 PM

Senator Kyl: (2:25 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today I'm pleased to support the Hutchison-Grassley bill reauthorizing the violence against women act. I regret that there are competing versions of reauthorization, especially since I believe that virtually all of us support the current law. I cannot, however, vote for the Leahy version for a number of reasons. First, a new section, 904, I believe is blatantly unconstitutional. This new section would give Indian tribes criminal jurisdiction to arrest, prosecute and imprison non-Indians for certain domestic violence offenses. Adding this language to the existing law violates basic principles of equal protection and due process. All tribes require either Indian ancestry or a specific quantum of Indian blood in order to be a tribal member. Even a person who lived his entire life on the reservation cannot be a tribal member if he does not have Indian blood. Such a person, no matter how long he's lived in the area, cannot vote in tribal elections, would have no say in crafting any laws that could be applied against him by section 904. Section 904 also breaks with 200 years of American legal tradition that tribes cannot exercise criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. It creates a violation of the constitution equal and due process guarantees. I take issue with the new section 905 of the Leahy bill which would allow Indian tribes to issue exclusion orders barring non-Indians from the lands within the tribes Indian country. Indian country is a term of art in federal law, meant to include lands allotted and sold to non-Indians or allotted to Indians who later sold the land to non-Indians but are within the boundaries of the historic Indian reservation. Many families have lived on such lands for generations. Other such residents include people with Indian blood but who have been expelled from membership in the tribe. Section 905 would allow tribes to issue orders that bar these individuals from entering their own land, land which they own in fee simple absolute. The primary rationale for these proposed additions to VAWA was to provide protection for tribal members. The Hutchison-Grassley alternative does that by replacing the unconstitutional provisions of the Leahy bill with an authorization for tribes to seek protection orders to prevent domestic violence issued directly by a federal court. Upon a showing that the target of the order has assaulted an Indian spouse or girlfriend or child in the custody or care of the person. Violations of the order will be subject to criminal prosecution in federal court. While punishing an offender for any underlying crime is important, preventing crime or harm in this case is critical. And it's often easier to prosecute violations of the terms of a protective order."

Senator Lautenberg: (2:30 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I ask those who would vote against passing this bill, think about your own families, think about your spouse, think about your daughters, think about your children, and every republican in the committee voted against reauthorizing VAWA in committee. Every one of them voted against the bill to protect women primarily. And walk away, and today there's a different approach that they've taken. They present an amendment - it is a sham. It actually removes the word "women" from a key part of the bill. It also fails to protect some of our most vulnerable victims. Apparently some of our colleagues would vote against protecting women if it means that they is also to protect immigrants and people in the gay and lesbian community. I call on our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, join us - join us and our families. We know that you care. Show it. Show it in this vote that we're about to take. Send a clear message that this country does not tolerate brutality against anyone, and show it with a little bit of courage. Stand up and say, "No, I want to protect my family, I want to protect those who are abused routinely in our society." That's the plea. And if just hope that each one of them will look at a picture of their kids, of their families and say, "I owe you that protection.â€? We work hard here with the premise that we are protecting people. Show it."

Senator Leahy: (2:38 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women representing dozens of organizations across the country say "The substitute was drafted without input or consultation from the thousands of professionals engaged in this work everyday, the substitute includes damaging, non-workable provisions that will harm victims, increase costs and create unnecessary inefficiency It is no substitute for the work we've done in a bipartisan wait, for people across the country to bring this bill that's before us. Unfortunately, it undermines core principles of the Violence Against Women Act. It would result in abandoning some of the most vulnerable victims and strip out provisions to protect native immigrants, Native women, victims in same-sex relationships. A victim is a victim is a victim. We can help you if you're in this category. Battered women, you're on your own, because you fit in the wrong category. That's not America. That's not the America that I know and love. And the improvements and the bipartisan Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act are taken out in the Republican proposal and . It does nothing to meet the unmet needs of victims. It undermines the focus of protecting women. It literally calls for removing the word "women" from the largest VAWA grant program. They're still victim at far higher rates with a far higher impact to their lives than men. Shifting this focus away from women is unnecessary and harmful. It could send a terrible there is no reason to turn the violence against women act inside out, eliminate the focus of the victims the bill has always been intended to protect. Our bipartisan bill by contrast does not eliminate the focus against women but it increases our focus to include all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault."

Senator Cornyn: (2:48 PM)
  • Called up Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act).
  • Spoke on Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act) to the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "My amendment to the underlying bill that's included in the Hutchison-Grassley version but in the event the hutchison-grassley version does not - does not prevail today, i intend to offer and will offer my amendment that will redirect more of the money, the $100 million that's appropriated by congress under the debbie smith act to make sure that these - this critical evidence is tested on a timely basis for the reasons i mentioned. My amendment requires that at least 75% of the funds given out in grant programs by the department of justice is used for the core purpose of testing those rape kits, but also that 7% of those funds be used to inventory the backlog. To me, it's a scandal that we don't even know what the backlog consists of because there is actually two kinds of backlog cases. One is the case where - where the kid is already at the laboratory and it is a part of the backlog of the laboratory, but the hidden backlog are the rape test kits that are maintained in police lockers and have never been forwarded to the laboratory in the first place. Those are not typically part of this estimate of the backlog. And the experts, the people who watch this area closely estimate that if you count all of the untested kits, the ones that are evidence waiting for a laboratory to test to match up with a perpetrator of these crimes, that there could be as many as 400,000 of them untested by the labs in the backlog."

Senator Shaheen: (2:59 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "In New Hampshire, half of all murders are domestic violence related. I spoke to the Chief of Police in Nashua, our state's second largest city. He gets just $68,000 from the Violence Against Women Act funding, but that allows him to have a dedicated unit within the police department that can respond to domestic violence and sexual assault cases. I heard from retired police chief Timothy Russell. He's a 37-year veteran of law enforcement and he now travels around the state teaching police officers how to respond to domestic violence cases. And it's funds from the Violence Against Women Act that allow him to conduct the specialized training so that police officers can identify patterns of domestic abuse and prevent those situations from escalating. Officers are taught to maintain good relationships with crisis centers and Chief Russell tells them if you see a victim in trouble, get a counselor on the phone to talk to them, tell them what their options are. Again, thanks to funding from the violence against women act. He has resources to bring this training throughout New Hampshire to police officers so that they can help the victims. I saw just this kind of cooperation and in action when I visited the family justice center in Rochester, New Hampshire, this week. They have made a multitude of services accessible in one place so victims don't have to go all over town or all over the county to get the help they need. They can see a counselor, get childcare assistance, fill out an application for a protective order and women can even get their . treated and officially documented. They can get free legal help, all in this family justice center, made possible by a Violence Against Women Act grant."

Senator Hutchison: (3:06 PM)
  • Called up Hutchison/Grassley amendment #2095 (alternative).
  • Spoke on Hutchison/Grassley amendment #2095 (alternative) to the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The substitute is a bill that takes the good parts and the important parts of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that I think are universal. The parts that have passed unanimously through Congress in recent years, starting 16 years ago. But the substitute also strengthens the bill, and I'm glad that we're going to get a chance to vote on something that will strengthen it, because there are some areas where the underlying bill is not as strong as our substitute bill, Senate bill 2095, would be. Especially in the area of abuse of children and child pornography and child sex trafficking. This is our most vulnerable victim. The child who is abused. Child protection measures must also include the ability to locate noncompliant registered sex offenders. The U.S. Marshals Service is the lead federal law enforcement agency for tracking these fugitives and their efforts would be greatly enhanced if they had the authority to serve administrative subpoenas. Now, that is key because it is covered in our substitute. It is covered in Senator Cornyn's amendment. It is not covered in either the underlying Leahy bill nor in Senator Klobuchar's side-by-side. So this is a major area of strengthening that this very important victims' rights organization is supporting I've heard people on the floor say that our substitute does not fully cover some areas, like Indian women. Well, our bill assures that Indian women are going to have the protections in a constitutional way so that the bill is not thrown out. Indian women on reservations are particularly vulnerable, and my colleague, Senator Murkowski, has told me that in Alaska they don't have reservations to a great extent, but they do have a record of abuse of Indian women, and we need to protect them. And we do it in a constitutional way in our substitute, and I think that protection is very important. It has been determined by several organizations, criminal justice organizations, that the underlying bill is not constitutional and would not work for Indian women. It has been asserted on the floor that we don't protect same-sex sexual violence but we do. We neutralize in our bill any reference or discrimination."

Senator Cornyn: (3:18 PM)
  • Spoke on Hutchison/Grassley amendment #2095 (alternative) to the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I want to talk about one aspect of Senator Hutchison's amendment included in my amendment, this is the administrative subpoena authority. This has been taken out of the Klobuchar alternative. It is not in the underlying Leahy bill. What happens is sex offenders are required to register. And if they don't register, they are much more likely to commit future acts of sexual assault and abuse, particularly against children. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest indicators that somebody's likely to reoffend is when they don't register. What the Hutchison bill does, my bill does is to give U.S. Marshals information to subpoenas to help identify these unregistered sex offenders and protect future victims from sexual assault because if they're registered, if they're identified they are much less likely to reoffend and commit further acts of sexual abuse."

Senator Menendez: (3:22 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "There is no doubt that I would find it very hard to understand why anyone would stand in the way of denouncing violence against any woman, no matter who they are, no matter what their class is. So I'm hard pressed to understand why anyone would choose to exclude violence against certain women, turn back the clock to a time when such violence was not recognized, was not a national disgrace and make a distinction when and against whom such violence meets a threshold of outrage. In my mind, there can be no threshold, no such distinction. Violence against any woman an outrage, plain and simple. The reauthorization of the violence against women act doesn't affect those who are here. It affects all of us. Nearly one in five women report being the victim of rape or attempted rape. One in six report being stalked. One in four women report having been beaten by their partner. Of those who report being raped, 80% report being raped before the age of 25. The short-term physical and emotional trauma of such an event cannot be overstated, and that is why it is critical that we pass VAWA as the committee has moved forward."

Senator Klobuchar: (3:24 PM)
  • Called up Klobuchar amendment #2094 (side-by-side to Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act).
  • Spoke on Klobuchar amendment #2094 (side-by-side to Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act)) to the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I rise to discuss my amendment that would respond to the problems that we are seeing with rape kit backlog which Senator Cornyn has identified while also reinforcing what we know is working well on this issue. This amendment would amend the Debbie Smith Act, which just like the Violence Against Women Act, has a history of bipartisan support. The Debbie Smith Act, as you know, was enacted in 2004. It was named after a courageous survivor of sexual assault. What this amendment does is to basically increase the percentage of Debbie Smith grant funds that are available for use in testing the backlog rape kit. We raise the current percentage of 40% up to 70%. So it is a significant change. The amendment also asks the National Institute of Justice to develop protocols to help law enforcement with sexual assault cases and to provide technical assistance and training to law enforcement and local governments. The amendment also allows funds to be used for auditing rape kit backlogs which is one of the important issues that senator Cornyn's amendment addresses. The difference between Senator Cornyn's amendment and my amendment is that mine does not mandate that a minimum percentage of funds be used for audits. Senator Cornyn's amendment also has provisions like subpoena authority for U.S. Marshalls for tracking fugitive sex offenders."

Vote Results (Klobuchar amendment #2094)

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 3:54 PM

Not Agreed to, 57-41:
Klobuchar amendment #2094 (side-by-side to Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act)) to Reid (for Leahy) substitute amendment #2093 to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Cornyn amendment #2086)

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 4:13 PM

Not Agreed to, 50-48:
Cornyn amendment #2086 (SAFER Act) to Reid (for Leahy) substitute amendment #2093 to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Hutchison amendment #2095)

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 4:32 PM

Not Agreed to, 36-63:
Hutchison amendment #2095 (alternative) to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Passage)

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012 4:52 PM

Passed, 68-31:
S. 1925, as amended, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Apr 26 2012 5:30 PM

Senator Reid: (4:52 PM)
  • Filed Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 2343, the Student Loan bill.

Senator Landrieu: (4:56 PM)
  • Honored 13 young women for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

Senator Kerry: (4:56 PM)
  • Honored Mary Tarr, Office Manager, who is retiring.

Senator Baucus: (5:08 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The bipartisan reauthorization renews grants programs critical to Montana including those that support law enforcement, victim services and prevention programs. And the bill consolidates 13 programs, many of which overlap, into four. This consolidation reduces administration costs and adds efficiency, acknowledging the current fiscal realities, the bill reduces authorization levels by 17% overall. It's more effective and costs less. It also addresses the pervasive domestic violence occurring in Indian country. Native Americans represent about 6% of Montana's population, about 6%. Yet native women account for over 13% of victims reporting domestic violence in my state in the year 2008, more than two times. According to the Department of Justice, Native women are two and a half times more likely to be a victim of rape or sexual assault compared with non-native women. However, it is the federal courts, not the tribal courts which have jurisdiction over many of these crimes including misdemeanor cases. With federal prosecutors stretched thin, especially large, rural states like Montana, many cases go uninvestigated and criminals walk three-free to continue their violence with no repercussions. Chairman Leahy's bill carefully crafts a measure to extend jurisdiction to address the issue of domestic violence and partner abuse in Indian country. These will give travel courts narrow jurisdiction to prosecute violence occurring on tribal land. The bill, however, safeguards those who might be defendants, Provides safeguards to ensure defendants receive all rights guaranteed by the United States constitution. This includes fourth amendment protections against search and seizure, fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination and sixth amendment right to counsel, all guaranteed in this statute."

Senator Reed: (5:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "After months of working to ensure student loan interest rates don't double this summer, I think we finally reached a consensus that that position is absolutely correct, that middle-income families in America can't afford a huge increase, a doubling of the interest rates on student loans. Those who were previously opposed or indifferent to our proposal now are in favor of stopping a doubling of rates. The most prominent, of course, is the former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, who said "I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans." I think that is the consensus. I submitted the legislation in January and now we reached that consensus. The debate now is how to pay for it. What I have proposed has been to close the loophole that has allowed a self-selected few to avoid paying their fair share of payroll taxes. The alternatives proposed on the other side go to critical health care benefits to low- or middle-income families. It seems to me entirely unfair to try to provide help to middle-income families by taking away their access to health care. For families that are struggling, education and health care are not something that are, can be avoided, can be traded one for the other. Congress should not raise the interest rate on these loans. We've reached that. It's a fact, a de facto tact for middle income families and we have put forth a plan for student loans. We are offering a short-term solution but we have to begin and do it quickly. If we don't act before July 1, these loans will double ... Our proposal targeted only to those S corporations that derive 75% or more of their gross revenue from the services of three or fewer shareholders or where the S corporation is a partner in a professional service business. Essentially, this is a small group of people who derive 75% or more of their gross revenues from services. It's lawyers, accountants, lobbyists and folks like that. The proposal only applies to S corporations and partnerships in the fields where virtually all the earnings are attributable to the performance of services. This is not the local manufacturer, not the local hardware store, not the local dry cleaners or gas station. These are people who perform essentially professional services. They are avoiding their payroll taxes, and we don't think that should be the case. Furthermore, this proposal exempts S corps shareholders or partnerships with modified adjusted gross incomes below $250,000 for joint filers and $200,000 for individuals. So it is targeted within the small subsection to an even smaller group, those who are making $250,000 as joint filers or $200,000 as sole filers. This proposal prevention professional service income for being mischaracterized to avoid taxes. Legitimate passive income, if the S corporation is earning income from rents, dividends and certain other gains, that would be essentially treated as such and will continue to be exempt from payroll tax."

Senator McCaskill: (5:24 PM)
  • Honored Angela Ellbury, Scheduler.

Hatch, Carper

Student Loan bill (S. 2343)

Apr 26 2012 6:07 PM

Senator Hatch: (5:29 PM)
  • Spoke on the impending tax hikes.
    • SUMMARY "First we need to focus on the tax extenders We've had hearings, no markup, no floor debate on that. Tax extenders are temporary tax provisions affecting everything from individuals and businesses, charitable giving, energy, and even disaster relief. My colleague from Montana, Senator Baucus, and I held a hearing in late January to discuss these tax provisions and the fact that congress extends these tax provisions without a thorough review of each of them. Some of these provisions are worthy of being extended such as the research and development tax credit. I have introduced legislation with my friend from Montana to make this provision permanent. But when it comes to tax extenders, we need to have a real debate where the senate decides which provisions must be extended and which should be allowed to expire. Second, we need to address the alternative minimum tax, 2012 AMT tax. We haven't had hearings, a markup, any floor debate on it. The alternative minimum tax was initially drafted to provide some type of guarantee that the higher-income taxpayers who owed little or no taxes under the regular income tax due to tax preferences would still pay some taxes. There were 155 of these at the time. Today we're approaching well over 30 million people who could get stung by this particular tax. Yet over time I've just said this tax has grown into a monster, potentially ensnaring more and more middle-income families every year. To avoid the consequences of the AMT on the middle class year after year, Congress has patched the AMT we've indexed it so that middle-income families do not end up paying this tax. Not only must we patch the AMT for 2012, we must eliminate the AMT in the long term. It really doesn't deserve to exist. Now, third, we have to focus on death tax reform. That's very, very important. Taxing people's assets upon their death is just plain wrong. The death tax affects thousands of small businesses' owners every year. This year alone it is estimated that 3,600 estates will be affected. In ten years approximately 83,200 estates will be hit with this tax according to the joint committee on taxation. The President likes to talk about how his policies will help small businesses. Well, if current law expires, the number of small business owners who will face the death tax will rise by 900%. The number of farmers who will face the death tax will rise by 2,200%. That's right, 2,200%. Many individuals worked their entire lives to build a business and they reasonably want to pass that business along to their families. Instead of being rewarded for their work and the work of their families, this is what they face come January 1, 2013 Fourth and most important, we've got to prevent the 2013 tax hikes. Now, we have to extend the tax relief signed into law by President Bush and extended by President Obama. This may be the most crucial piece of legislation congress passes this year, if not during the entire 112th congress. If we allow these cuts to expire scheduled at the end of the year, almost every federal income tax payer in America will see an increase in their rates. Some will see a rate increase of 9% while others will see a rate increase of 87%. Let's take the average American family of four earning $50,000. This family will owe an additional tax of $2,183. Democrats insist that that is fair. That is just more people that are paying more of their fair share. But to whom and for what? ... Economists estimate that if these current policies are allowed to expire the economy could contract by approximately 3 percentage points. That would be a large hit to an economy that is still weak and recovering from the fiscal crisis of 2008. Adding another fiscal crisis by not extending these tax policies definitely won't help and will likely do further damage. So, preventing this tax hike is what we mu focus on. Congress should have a laser focus on preventing this looming disaster. Yet at a time when we should be working to prevent a massive tax increase, President Obama and his Democrat allies are spinning their wheels trying to raise taxes on politically unpopular groups. These tax hikes are already scheduled to go into effect. Congress doesn't have to do anything and everyone will pay more taxes come 2013."

Senator Carper: (5:46 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bowles-Simpson plan.
    • SUMMARY "Erskine Bowles was asked by this President to try to negotiate a deficit reduction deal. Along with Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming. The two of them were asked to head up a deficit commission of very smart people. 11 out of the 18 after working at it for just about a year came back and said here is what we think is a good way to take $4 trillion or $5 trillion out of the deficit over the next ten years. The deficit commission led by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson recommended that we do so by working on the spending side and on the revenue side, and for every three dollars of deficit reduction on the spending side there would be one dollar of new revenues, not by raising taxes but by lower somewhat the personal income tax rate, the corporate income tax rate, broadening the base of the tax structure, broadening the base of that income which can be taxed. That is seen by a lot of people as like the grand compromise. Democrats agree to compromise on entitlement program reform in an effort to try to make sure we have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, 50, 60, 70, 100 years from now. Republicans agree to compromise on tax reform that actually lowers the rates, but enable us to generate some additional revenues. One dollar of new revenue for three dollars of spending reductions for deficit reduction. I think that's a smart plan, and I know that people have come forward with their plan since then. I think that's a smart deficit reduction plan. I think that's a good jobs bill. My hope is by the end of this year when the smoke clears, maybe the elections are over, we will come back to that and use that as maybe our north star to get us back to fiscal responsibility in this nation."
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "We have to help them right size their enterprise and modernize and find new ways to generate revenues. That's really the heart and soul of what we want to do that. How do we do that? As it turns out, by luck, the Postal Service in recent years has overpaid its obligation to the federal employee retirement system by a lot. It turns out by about $11 billion. There is no argument they have overpaid the money. They are owed, the Postal Service is owed that money by the federal employee retirement system. The Postal Service would like to take that money and use that money for two things. One, to incentivize about 100,000 people, postal employees who are eligible to retire to retire. Not fire them, not lay them off. Say look, if you will retire, here is another $25,000, or if you're close to retirement, we'll give you some extra years of credit, but we would like for you to retire. Second, the Postal Service has more mail processing centers than they need. A couple of years ago, they had maybe 600 or so. Today they have a few less than 500. They would like to get down to about 325 over the next year or two. That would be almost cutting in half the number of mail processing centers that there are around the country because they don't need them. They don't need them given the volume of mail today. They need mail processing centers but not as many as they have. And when the Postal Service would close another 150 or so mail processing centers, some people will not be able to work in those mail processing centers, but the Postal Service says we'll find other jobs for you. You can be a letter carrier. You can work in another part of the Postal Service. You're not going to get fired. We want to encourage people eligible to retire to retire. The Postal Service also wants to take most of that reimbursement from the federal employee retirement system to pay down their debt to the treasury. Right now, they have gone on a $15 billion line of credit. The Postal Service would like to take most of their federal employee retirement system reimbursement and pay off that debt, take care of it. Another thing that they would like to do, a lot of folks around here have been real concerned about the closure of post offices. There is the fear that as many as 3,000 or 4,000 post offices in rural places around the country where maybe the post office is the center of the town. Folks are concerned that their post office is going to be closed and people have been left without Postal Service. As it turns out, that isn't going to be the case. What the Postal Service is going to do under our bill is to say to communities across the country, what they are going to say is we would like to offer you a menu of options, we would like to offer you a menu of options in different communities, and among that menu of options we would like to offer to these communities are these."

Apr 26 2012 7:17 PM

Senator Udall-NM: (6:45 PM)
  • Honored Rudolfo Anaya and marked the 40th Anniversary of his book, Bless Me Ultmia.

Senator Bennet: (6:52 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Since this bill was first enacted, the annual incidents of domestic violence continues to drop. Additionally, domestic violence reporting has dramatically increased and victims are receiving life-saving assistance to help them move forward with their lives. In my home state of Colorado, we continue to make great progress reducing the number of domestic and sexual assaults that occur, but we must continue to do more. In 2010, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control published a report that estimated that 451,000 women in Colorado were victims of rape in their lifetimes. It also estimated that 897,000 Colorado women were victims of sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime. That same report said that 505,000 men had been victims of sexual violence in their lifetimes. These statistics are staggering, in my view, and they make the case for why we had to pass this bill and continue to strengthen the programs that provide life-saving services. The Violence Against Women Act also includes invaluable programs to coordinate community efforts to respond to incidents of domestic and sexual violence by training police officers, judges and other members of the criminal justice system. The legal system in our country is already stretched so thin, so the resources provided by this bill will help law enforcement and court officials track down and bring to justice those who commit these crimes."

Senator Reid:(7:06 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
    • Unless the House passes S. Con. Res. 43, the Adjournment Resolution, the Senate will conduct Pro Forma sessions on the following days:
      • Monday, April 30th at 10:30 AM; and
      • Thursday, May 3rd at 8:00 AM.
    • If the House passes S. Con. Res. 43, the Adjournment Resolution, there will be no Pro Forma sessions.
  • Monday, May 7th --
    • The Senate will next convene at 2:00 PM and resume begin consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 2343, the Student Loan bill, with the time until 4:30 PM equally divided.
    • At 4:30 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on:
      1. Executive Calendar #508, Jacqueline H. Nguyen, of California, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit;
      2. Executive Calendar #568, Kristine Gerhard Baker, of Arkansas, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas; and
      3. Executive Calendar #569 John Z. Lee, of Illinois, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.
    • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct 3 ROLL CALL VOTES on the nominations.
  • Tuesday, May 8th --
    • At 12:00 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 2343, the Student Loan bill.
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM Monday, May 7th.