Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The President’s Remarks On Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released the following comments today following remarks by President Obama and Vice President Biden recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“The President and Vice President have announced an unprecedented initiative to reduce domestic and sexual violence, and to assist the survivors of these terrible crimes.  These are important issues that I have consistently worked to address in Congress, and I support the administration’s efforts. 

“The Violence Against Women Act was a watershed piece of legislation that is as crucial now as it has ever been.  It has transformed our criminal justice system, and has evolved to include critical new programs to assist victims and to focus on prevention and the needs of young people.  For all we have accomplished, though, the problem of domestic and sexual violence persists.  That is why increasing our commitment to combating violence against women is more important now than ever.  I am glad that the administration is taking steps to address housing needs and promote economic independence for victims of domestic and sexual violence, improve services and law enforcement response for victims of these crimes, and expand programs aimed at violence prevention and breaking the cycle of violence. 

“I am also glad that the administration is strengthening its efforts to address the problem of rape kit backlogs.  No rape victim should have to live in fear for years while the evidence that could take the attacker off the streets sits on a shelf untested.  I look forward to working with the administration to make substantial and lasting progress on this intractable problem.”


Senator Leahy has long championed extending and strengthening the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was signed into law in 1994.  He worked to reauthorize the important law in 2000 and 2005.  As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy has held hearings this Congress on the important law, which will expire in 2011.


Senator Leahy is the author of the Improving Assistance to Domestic and Sexual Violence Victims Act to strengthen VAWA and to help address the needs of a growing number of domestic violence victims.  The legislation was approved by the Judiciary Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.

Last year, Senator Leahy worked to secure additional grant funding for VAWA-related programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence received a $156,000 grant drawn from the funds secured by Senator Leahy.


Senator Leahy is also the author of legislation aimed at strengthening the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Program.  These reforms are a centerpiece of the Justice For All Reauthorization Act, and include new initiatives aimed at reducing rape kit backlogs at the law enforcement as well as laboratory stages.  He introduced the legislation in September.

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