06.26.12

Remarks Of Senator Patrick Leahy At The VAWA National Days of Action Rally

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery

I am honored to stand with you here today at this rally for National VAWA Days of Action. For nearly two decades, the Violence Against Women Act has saved lives, and we must act now to see that this critical legislation is reauthorized.

More than six months ago, Senator Crapo and I joined together to introduce S.1925, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  I am proud to have worked across party lines to ensure that this important issue remains a priority for Congress and the country.

Our bill is based on years of input from all of you – the advocates and survivors who are on the front lines of the fight to end domestic and sexual violence every day.  So many of you told us that while we have made great strides in reducing these horrible crimes, there is still much work to be done.  There are still victims whose needs go unmet.  We listened to you, and we introduced a bill that embodies the core values of VAWA to protect all victims. 

Thanks to your tireless work, that bill passed the Senate with a remarkable 68 votes.  That is a rare feat in the Senate today, and it demonstrates that the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Act is about saving lives, not about partisan politics.

Unfortunately, the House chose a different path.  Instead of listening to the professionals in the field, their leadership chose to proceed with a bill that does not reflect the core values of VAWA.  I hope the House leadership can be persuaded to listen to professionals like you and pass a bill that addresses the real needs of real victims.

Each time I visit a shelter or a crisis center in Vermont, I am reminded of the real people whose lives are at stake in this effort. As a prosecutor, I saw the damage inflicted by these horrible crimes.  We cannot turn our backs on the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on VAWA every year.

Saving the lives of victims of domestic violence must be above politics. It is time to end the gridlock. Congress must pass a bill that protects all victims, and we must do so quickly. 

Domestic and sexual violence knows no political party.  Its victims are Republican and Democrat, rich and poor, young and old.  Helping these victims, all these victims, should be our goal.  I will continue to work with all of you and with our leadership in the Senate to make sure Congress passes a VAWA reauthorization bill that protects all victims and that we do so now.

Thank you all so much for all you do every day to help end domestic and sexual violence. Your work has forever changed the lives of countless people.  I am proud to stand with you and fight to ensure that you and the survivors you serve will have the resources you need to end the scourge of domestic violence for all victims.

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