News Releases

Murray Urges House Passage of Bipartisan Senate VAWA Bill

Jul 24 2012

Three months after the Senate passed bipartisan VAWA, Senator Murray urged Speaker Boehner to ignore ideological distractions and pass inclusive bill



(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Tuesday, July 24th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray gave a speech on the Senate floor urging the House to move forward with reauthorization of the Senate’s bipartisan, inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which passed the Senate three months ago with 68 votes. Specifically, Senator Murray discussed the ways important provisions in the Senate version of the bill will protect Native American women from domestic violence and sexual assault, and includes non-discrimination protection for all victims, regardless of their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

“It’s time for Speaker Boehner to look beyond ideology and partisan politics,” Senator Murray said.  “It’s time for him to look at the history of a bill that again and again has been supported and expanded by Republicans and Democrats. It’s time for him to the right thing and pass our inclusive, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. Because women across the country’s lives literally depend on it.”

In her speech, Senator Murray talked about constituent Deborah Parker, Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes, who shared her personal domestic violence experience with Senator Murray earlier this year.  The Senate version of VAWA includes critical provisions that will provide new protections for victims on tribal lands, like Ms. Parker, that were not previously covered. Among these improvements is the ability for local justice officials in tribal communities to bring non-Indians who live and commit crimes against women on tribal lands to justice. Currently, U.S. Attorneys decline to prosecute a majority of violent crimes that occur in Indian country, including an overwhelming amount of sexual abuse related cases.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

  • The Violence Against Women Act has successfully helped provide life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women and families. And every time we reauthorize this bill we include bipartisan provisions to address those that are not being protected by it. But here we are, back on the Senate floor, urging support for a bill that should not be controversial.”
  • “Today, the women of the Senate – and the men who support VAWA – have come to the floor with a simple, straightforward messa"ge for our friends in the House of Representatives: ‘Stop the games and pass the inclusive, bipartisan Senate bill without delay.’"
  • “In fact, for Native and immigrant women, and LGBT individuals – every moment our inclusive legislation to reauthorize VAWA is delayed, is another moment they are left without the resources and protection they deserve. The numbers are staggering: 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, 2 in 5 of them victims of domestic violence, and they are killed at 10 times the rate of the national average.  And these shocking statistics aren’t isolated to one group of women– 25-35% of women in the LGBT community experience domestic violence in relationships, and 3 in 4 abused immigrant women never entered the process to obtain legal status -- even though they were eligible -- because their abuser husbands never filed their paperwork. This should make it perfectly clear to our colleagues in the other chamber that their current inaction has a real impact on the lives of women across American affected by violence”
  • “Reauthorizing an inclusive VAWA is a matter of fairness.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“Thank you, Madam President.

“You know, it’s hard for me to believe it has been months since we first gathered to talk about this legislation.

“That we’re standing here today, still trying to pass a bill into law that has consistently received broad bipartisan approval.

“A bill that passed the Senate almost 3 months ago by a vote of 68-31.

“Madam President, the Violence Against Women Act has successfully helped provide life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women and families.

“And every time we reauthorize this bill we include bipartisan provisions to address those that are not being protected by it.

“But here we are, back on the Senate floor, urging support for a bill that should not be controversial.  

“So today, the women of the Senate – and the men who support VAWA – have come to the floor with a simple, straightforward message for our friends in the House of Representatives:

“Stop the games and pass the inclusive, bipartisan Senate bill without delay.”

“And in the coming weeks we will be making sure this message resonates – loud and clear -- both here in D.C. and back in our home states.

“Because we are not going to back down –

“Not while there are thousands of women across our country who are excluded from the current law.

“In fact, for Native and immigrant women, and LGBT individuals – every moment our inclusive legislation to reauthorize VAWA is delayed, is another moment they are left without the resources and protection they deserve.

“The numbers are staggering: 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, 2 in 5 of them victims of domestic violence, and they are killed at 10 times the rate of the national average.

“And these shocking statistics aren’t isolated to one group of women– 25-35% of women in the LGBT community experience domestic violence in relationships, and 3 in 4 abused immigrant women never entered the process to obtain legal status -- even though they were eligible -- because their abuser husbands never filed their paperwork.

“This should make it perfectly clear to our colleagues in the other chamber that their current inaction has a real impact on the lives of women across American affected by violence --

“Women like Deborah Parker.

“Deborah is the Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribe in my home state of Washington.

“Madam President, Deborah was repeatedly abused, starting at a very young age, by a non-tribal man who lived on her reservation.

“Not until after the abuse stopped around the 4th grade did Deborah realize she wasn’t the only child suffering at the hands of her assailant–

“At least a dozen other young girls had fallen victim to this man.

“A man who was never arrested for these crimes; never brought to justice; and still walks free today.

“All because he committed these heinous acts on the reservation – and as someone who is not a member of a tribe, it is an unfortunate reality that he is unlikely to be held liable for his crimes.

“Madam President, reauthorizing an inclusive VAWA is a matter of fairness.

“Deborah’s experience – and the experience of the other victims of this man – do not represent an isolated incident.

“For the narrow set of domestic violence crimes laid out in VAWA, tribal governments should be able to hold accountable defendants that have a strong tie to the tribal community. 

“Madam President, I was glad to see Republican Congresswoman Judy Biggert and several of her Republican colleagues echo these sentiments last week.

“In a letter sent to Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor, the Republican Members explicitly called on their party leadership to end this gridlock and accept ‘Senate-endorsed provisions that would protect all victims of domestic violence, including college students, LGBT individuals, native Americans and immigrants’

“So today we urge Speaker Boehner to listen to the Members of his own caucus and join us in taking a major step to uphold our government’s promise to protect its people.

“You know, I was so proud to have been serving in the Senate in 1994 - when we first passed VAWA.

“Since we took that historic step, VAWA has been a great success in coordinating:  victims’ advocates,  social service providers, and law enforcement professionals to meet the immediate challenges of combating domestic violence.

“And along with its bipartisan support, it has received praise from law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, victim service providers, faith leaders, health care professionals, advocates and survivors. 

“VAWA has attained such broad support because it’s worked.

“Where a person lives, their immigration status, or who they love should not determine whether or not perpetrators of domestic violence are brought to justice. 

“These women cannot afford any further delay.

“Not on this bill.

“Madam President, today the New York Times ran an editorial on this bill that gets to the heart of where we are.

“It began by saying that ‘House Republicans have to decide which is more important: protecting victims of domestic violence or advancing the harsh antigay and anti-immigrant sentiments of some on their party’s far right. At the moment, harshness is winning.’

“But the editorial also pointed out that it doesn’t have to be this way.

“It pointed out that ‘In May, 15 Senate Republicans joined with the chamber’s Democratic majority to approve a strong reauthorization bill.’

“And finally it ends with what we all know it will take to move this bill forward- leadership from Congressman Boehner.

“And Madam President, today the effort we are beginning here in the Senate – an effort that will continue for as long as it takes – is a call for the very same thing.

“Leadership.

“It’s time for Speaker Boehner to look beyond ideology and partisan politics.

“It’s time for him to look at the history of a bill that again and again has been supported and expanded by Republicans and Democrats.

“It’s time for him to the right thing and pass our inclusive, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act.

“Because women across the country’s lives literally depend on it.

“Thank you Madam President.”