Suzanne Bonamici

Violence Against Women Act (S.47) - May 16, 2012

Suzanne Bonamici
May 16, 2012— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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It's truly unfortunate that we're here today talking about the possibility of voting against the Violence Against Women Act. This bill was originally passed and has been consistently reauthorized with strong bipartisan support, but it now faces unnecessary hurdles.

There has been a drop in annual rates of domestic violence since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, but we still have work to do. Alarmingly, one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetime, but the current bill is not the way to move forward.

Unlike the companion bill that passed in the Senate with strong bipartisan support, this House bill will take us backwards. It eliminates protections for immigrants dependent on and exploited by their spouses, keeping them trapped in violent relationships. It could let perpetrators of sexual violence against Native American women off the hook, and it utterly fails to recognize that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, including those in same-sex relationships.

Every time we reauthorize an act of Congress, we have an opportunity to improve. Improvement, not further harming victims, should be our focus with the reauthorization.