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Rep. Karen Bass Calls For Passage Of Violence Against Women Act

April 3, 2019
Press Release
WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) called for the final passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 2019, which will be voted on by the House of Representatives tomorrow. Watch her remarks on the floor below.

Speech as prepared:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1585, the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019.”
 
This bipartisan measure was introduced by myself and my colleague, Mr. Fitzpatrick, the Gentleman from PA.
 
Several other Members have supported this effort and were inadvertently left off the sponsor list due to a glitch in our system.  To remedy that I will furnish a separate statement for the record that include those names respectively. (I ask for unanimous consent to submit that statement at this time).
 
H.R. 1585 will reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994, a landmark piece of legislation first enacted and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
 
This was a direct response to the epic violence against women that plagued our country at that time.  While we have made significant progress, we still have much to do.
 
It is estimated that more than two million adults and more than 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually.  These alarming figures make it imperative that we reauthorize VAWA now.
 
We concluded our celebration of Women’s History Month in March, but our job to protect women is not complete.
 
Movements like MeToo, across this country, demand Congress’ attention to better deal with the gaping holes left unfilled in current law around the issues of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault/harassment, and stalking.
 
These VAWA enumerated offenses will have the same profound effect on a victim, survivor, and on their families, no matter ones party affiliation.  Hence, these are human problems period.
 
This is our opportunity to respond to the needs of victims and survivors everywhere, absent discrimination based on their race, sex, religion, or nationality.
 
That is why this law has been reauthorized three times—in 2000, 2005, and 2013, since enactment—with strong bipartisan approval and overwhelming support from Congress, states, and local communities.
 
H.R. 1585 continues that tradition, which reflects a reasonable and compromised approach to reauthorize grant programs under VAWA.
 
For example, this bill includes various pieces of bipartisan legislation, Republican amendment from our committee markup, and Republican amendments through the Rules’ process.
 
This bill will have a significant local impact, especially in my district. In South Los Angeles, the Jenesse Center helps hundreds every year. VAWA funding has supported the growth of Jenesse’s legal department, which provides direct legal services that not only assist survivors in securing immediate safety, but also help them achieve long-term goals of stability and self-sufficiency. 
 
VAWA funding is integral to Jenesse’s transitional, or “bridge,” housing program for survivors. After overcoming the initial crisis phase, people need space and time to rebuild family bonds, secure education and vocational training, and receive the mental health counseling needed to heal from trauma.
 
H.R. 1585 is inclusive, sensible, and responsive.  This bill is about preventing and responding to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.  
 
This is why I urge my colleagues to exert courage and stand with victims by supporting this bill.
 
Thank you Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.