Marsha Blackburn

Recognizing the 15th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act - Sept. 14, 2009

Marsha Blackburn
September 14, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today in support of this House resolution, which, as the gentlelady from Florida said, recognizes the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, or VAWA.

One out of every three people in the United States has been a victim of domestic violence, and that is according to Department of Justice statistics. Legislation proposing a Federal response to this violence against women was first introduced in 1990, although such violence was identified as a serious problem as early as the 1970s. So in 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act to protect women against violent crime, including domestic abuse. The act created grant programs to be administered by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

Funding under the bill recognized enforcement as well as educational and social programs to combat violent crime targeted against women. VAWA grants provide funding for the investigation and the prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women and support increased pretrial detention of defendants. VAWA also imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted.

In 2000, Congress reauthorized many VAWA programs, set new funding levels, and created new grant programs to address sexual assaults on campuses and assist victims of domestic abuse. These programs continue the essential work begun by the earlier act and add important services for immigrant, rural, disabled and older women.

The VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2000 also created new stalking offenses by creating penalties for a person who travels in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to kill, injure, harass or intimidate a spouse or intimate partner.

VAWA was reauthorized for an additional 5 years when President Bush signed the act in 2005. The legislation expanded VAWA to include initiatives to help children who have been exposed to violence and to train health care providers to support victims of abuse.

The 2005 reauthorization also provided funding for crisis services for victims of rape and sexual assault. The act also improved support services, such as transitional housing, to women and children who have been forced to leave their homes because of this violence.

As the resolution notes, over the last 15 years VAWA has provided Federal support for efforts by law enforcement officials and victim service providers to hold offenders accountable and to keep those victims safe.

I join my colleagues in recognizing the 15th anniversary of the enactment of VAWA and urge continued support of the goals and the ideals of the Violence Against Women Act.

Mr. Speaker, in yielding back the balance of my time, I would thank so many of the volunteers in our communities who have been instrumental in working with many of us in starting rape and sexual abuse centers and supporting those victims, especially the children that we've been able to reach out and provide additional help and support for over the last few years. I know many of my colleagues have served in local and State legislative bodies, and we have had this as a very important focus of much of our work to make certain that women and children were protected from this strike of violence, and so I commend all of them.

I thank the gentlelady from Florida.

I yield back the balance of my time.

155 Congr. Rec. H9459. (2009).