Floor Updates

Lee, Franken, Manchin, Hagan

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 26 2012

01:52 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."