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    Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

    by Former Representative Steven A. Horsford

    Posted on 2013-02-28

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    HORSFORD. No woman should have to live in fear of violence in this country.



    One of my first actions in Congress was to cosponsor the Violence Against Women Act, which was authored by my colleague, Gwen Moore.

    Her bill took critical steps to strengthen the ability of our local law enforcement and service providers to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Her bill went to great lengths to ensure that all women in our country would be protected under the bill.

    The Senate passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis her bill. That is why I find the political game being played by some Republicans today to be frustrating, my colleagues find it to be frustrating, and my constituents find it to be frustrating.

    I do not understand why, Madam Speaker, you would eliminate provisions to protect women from immigrant communities--many of which I represent in my district in Congressional District Four--and women from Native American communities, or inappropriately discriminate against women based on their sexual orientation.

    I urge my colleagues to pass the bipartisan bill.

    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Washington, DC, February 1, 2013.

    Re NAACP Strong Support for S. 47, To Reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

    Dear Chairman Leahy: On behalf of the NAACP, our nation's oldest, largest and most widely-recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization, I would like to sincerely thank you for your leadership in introducing S. 47, legislation strengthening and reauthorizing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). As strong and consistent supporters of VAWA, the NAACP recognizes that this important legislation would improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.

    As you know, the NAACP supported the passage of VAWA in 1994, and its reauthorization in 2000 and 2005. We have witnessed VAWA change the landscape for victims of violence in the United States who once suffered in silence. Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking have now been able to access services, and a new generation of families and justice system professionals has come to understand that domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking are crimes that our society will no longer tolerate. Your bill will not only continue proven effective programs, but that it will make key changes to streamline VAWA and make sure that even more people have access to safety, stability and justice.

    Thank you again for your continued leadership in this endeavor. Your thoughtfulness and tenacity in this area over the years has improved the lives of millions of Americans. Should you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at my office at (202) 463-2940.

    Sincerely, Hilary O. Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau & Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy.

    ____ Washington, DC, February 7, 2013.

    Dear Senator: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), the [[Page H749]] oldest and largest national anti-domestic violence advocacy organization that serves more than 1.3 million domestic violence victims in more than 2,000 shelter programs nationwide, expresses strong support for S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2013 introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy and Michael Crapo.

    Since its original passage in 1994, VAWA has dramatically enhanced our nation's response to violence against women. More victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent. The sexual assault services program in VAWA helps rape crisis centers keep their doors open to provide the frontline response to victims of rape. VAWA provides for a coordinated community approach, improving collaboration between law enforcement and victim services providers to better meet the needs of victims. These comprehensive and cost-effective programs not only save lives, they also save money. In fact, VAWA saved nearly $12.6 billion in net averted social costs in just its first six years.

    But more work remains. The CDC's 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical domestic violence and 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime.

    S. 47 renews successful programs that have helped law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service providers keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. It consolidates programs in order to reduce administrative costs and avoid duplication. The reauthorization is also mindful of our current fiscal state, and reduces authorizations by 17 percent from the 2005 reauthorization. New accountability measures have been included in the bill in order to ensure that VAWA funds are used wisely and efficiently.

    S. 47 builds on existing efforts to more effectively combat violence against all victims and aims to ensure that VAWA programs reach more communities whose members need services. It expands the definition of ``underserved'' to include religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity to encourage development of services for people who have had trouble getting help in the past based on those categories. It also includes new purpose areas to ensure that grant funds can be used to make services available for all victims regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill includes important provisions to ensure that vulnerable immigrant victims of domestic and sexual violence receive the support and services they need.

    This bill addresses the ongoing crisis of violence against Native American victims, who face rates of domestic violence and sexual assault much higher than those faced by the general population, by strengthening existing programs and by narrowly expanding concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over those who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country. This provision would ensure that no perpetrators of abuse are immune from accountability, but would do so in a way that protects rights and ensures fairness.

    Intimate partner violence remains a critical problem in our nation. We cannot let victims of domestic and sexual violence continue to suffer. Congress must protect all victims of violence, hold all perpetrators accountable and provide justice for all.

    We urge you to vote in favor of S. 47. Your support is essential to enhancing our nation's ability to hold perpetrators accountable and keep victims safe from future harm. Thank you for your consideration and please do not hesitate to contact me or Tralonne Shorter, Public Policy Advisor for NCADV at (202) 744-8455 if you have any questions or want additional information.

    Sincerely, Rita Smith, Executive Director.

    ____ Attorney General of Missouri, Jefferson City, MO, February 6, 2013.

    Dear Members of Congress, In 1994, this nation's leaders enacted the Violence Against Women Act (``VAWA''). This landmark piece of legislation put in place a legal framework that better enabled states like Missouri to effectively investigate violent crimes against women, prosecute and punish offenders, and protect victims from further harm. In the decades since VAWA's enactment, Congress has twice voted to reauthorize the law. With each reauthorization, Congress not only strengthened the provisions of the law, it also reaffirmed this country's commitment to support survivors of personal violence and sexual assault. It is time to do so again.

    Missouri women and their families rely on the programs and services that VAWA makes possible. For example, non-profit, community, and faith-based organizations use federal funds directed through VAWA's Sexual Assault Services Program to provide vital support to victims of sexual assault. And Missouri prosecutors, police officers, and court personnel participate in training funded through the STOP (Services Training Officers Prosecutors) program, equipping them to better address violent crime against women.

    But the work is just beginning. In 2011, over 40,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported in Missouri. Thirty women were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. Missouri women reported more than 1,400 forcible rapes or attempted forcible rapes. And although over 10,000 women in need were able to find a place at a shelter, nearly 20,000 more were turned away.

    By reauthorizing VAWA, this Congress will continue the effort undertaken nearly twenty years ago--the effort to eliminate violent crime perpetrated against our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our neighbors, and our friends. I urge each of you to support this important legislation.

    Respectfully, Chris Koster, Attorney General, State of Missouri.

    ____ Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, Rapid City, SD, February 4, 2013., Re Support for S. 47, VAWA Reauthorization Hon. Patrick Leahy U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC.

    Dear Chairman Leahy: I write on behalf of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association to voice our strong support for S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013. This bill will provide local tribal governments with the long-needed control to combat acts of domestic violence against Native women and children on Indian lands regardless of the status of the offender.

    The current justice system in place on Indian lands handcuffs the local tribal justice system. Non-Native men who abuse Native women hide behind these federal laws and court decisions, walking the streets of Indian country free of consequences, while denying justice to Native women and their families.

    Nationally, Native women are raped and assaulted at 2.5 times the national average. More than 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, and more than 3 in 5 will suffer domestic assault. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has found that the current system of justice, ``inadequate to stop the pattern of escalating violence against Native women.'' Tribal leaders, police officers, and prosecutors have testified to the fact that when misdemeanor acts of domestic and dating violence go unaddressed, offenders become emboldened and feel untouchable, and the beatings escalate, often leading to death or severe physical injury. A National Institute of Justice-funded analysis of death certificates found, that, on some reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate more than ten times the national average. S. 47 will crack down on reservation based domestic violence by all offenders at the early stages before violence escalates.

    While the problem of violence against Native women is longstanding and broad, the jurisdictional provisions proposed in S. 47, Section 904, are well-reasoned and limited in scope. They extend only to misdemeanor level crimes of domestic and dating violence. They are limited to enforcement of reservation-based crimes involving individuals that work or live on an Indian reservation and who are in a serious relationship with a tribal citizen from that reservation. S. 47 also provides the full range of constitutional protections to abuse suspects who would be subject to the authority of tribal courts.

    In June of 2010, the United States Senate, by unanimous consent, passed the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA). On July 27, 2010, the House of Representatives passed the measure under suspension of the rules. The tribal provisions in S. 47 are subject to a more narrow set of crimes, are limited to misdemeanor level punishments, and would provide a broader range of protections to suspects of abuse than those required under TLOA. With such broad support for TLOA, it is troubling that some Members of Congress now claim that the narrowly tailored proposal in S. 47 raises constitutional concerns. Such concerns are unfounded.

    In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a similar restoration of tribal government authority through an amendment to the Indian Civil Rights Act. Congress has this authority, and Native women throughout the United States desperately need us to act so that they can be afforded similar access to justice that many others take for granted.

    In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding to divest Indian tribes of authority over local reservation-based crimes, made the following statement: ``We recognize that some Indian tribal court systems have become increasingly sophisticated and resemble in many respects their state counterparts.... We are not unaware of the prevalence of non-Indian crime on today's reservations which the tribes forcefully argue requires the ability to try non-Indians. But these are considerations for Congress to weigh.'' Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, 435 U.S. 191, 211 (1978) (emphasis added).

    This statement and resulting gaps in criminal jurisdiction on Indian lands have haunted Native women and tribal communities nationwide for more than 35 years. Time has come for Congress to act. S. 47 takes reasonable well-tailored measures to fill the gap in local authority, and will go far in ensuring domestic safety for Native women nationwide. We urge you to support and vote for S. 47 when the measure moves to the Senate floor. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Sincerely, Tex ``Red Tipped Arrow'' Hall, Chairman, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, Three Affiliated Tribes, [[Page H750]] Chairman, Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association.

    ____ Office of the Govenor, Pueblo of Tesuque, Santa Fe, NM, February 5, 2012.

    Re Support for S. 47, VAWA Reauthorization Hon. Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC.

    Dear Chairman Leahy: I write on behalf of the Pueblo of Tesuque to voice our strong support for S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013. This bill will provide local tribal governments with the long-needed control to combat acts of domestic violence against Native women and children on Indian lands regardless of the status of the offender.

    The current justice system in place on Indian lands handcuffs the local tribal justice system. Non-Native men who abuse Native women hide behind these federal laws and court decisions, walking the streets of Indian country free of consequences, while denying justice to Native women and their families.

    Nationally, Native women are raped and assaulted at 2.5 times the national average. More than 1 in 3 Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, and more than 3 in 5 will suffer domestic assault. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ha found that the current system of justice, ``inadequate to stop the pattern of escalating violence against Native women.'' Tribal leaders, police officers, and prosecutors have testified to the fact that when misdemeanor acts of domestic and dating violence go unaddressed, offenders become emboldened and feel untouchable, and the beatings escalate, often leading to death or severe physical injury. A National Institute of Justice-funded analysis of death certificates found that, on some reservations, Native women are murdered at a rate more than ten times the national average. S. 47 will crack down on reservation based domestic violence by all offenders at the early stages before violence escalates.

    While the problem of violence against Native women is longstanding and broad, the jurisdictional provisions proposed in S. 47, Section 904, are well-reasoned and limited in scope. They extend only to misdemeanor level crimes of domestic and dating violence. They are limited to enforcement of reservation-based crimes involving individuals that work or live on an Indian reservation and who are in a serious relationship with a tribal citizen from that reservation. S. 47 also provides the full range of constitutional protections to abuse suspects who would be subject to the authority of tribal courts.

    In June of 2010, the United States Senate, by unanimous consent, passed the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA). On July 27, 2010, the House of Representatives passed the measure under suspension of the rules. The tribal provisions in S. 47 are subject to a more narrow set of crimes, are limited to misdemeanor level punishments, and would provide a broader range of protections to suspects of abuse than those required under TLOA. With such broad support for TLOA, it is troubling that some Members of Congress now claim that the narrowly tailored proposal in S. 47 raises constitutional concerns. Such concerns are unfounded.

    In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a similar restoration of tribal government authority through an amendment to the Indian Civil Rights Act. Congress has this authority, and Native women throughout the United States desperately need us to act so that they can be afforded similar access to justice that many others take for granted.

    In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding to divest Indian tribes of authority over local reservation-based crimes, made the following statement: ``We recognize that some Indian tribal court systems have become increasingly sophisticated and resemble in many respects their state counterparts.... We are not unaware of the prevalence of non-Indian crime on today's reservations which the tribes forcefully argue requires the ability to try non-Indians. But these are considerations for Congress to weigh.'' Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, 435 U.S. 191, 211 (1978) (emphasis added).

    This statement and resulting gaps in criminal jurisdiction on Indian lands have haunted Native women and tribal communities nationwide for more than 35 years. Time has come for Congress to act. S. 47 takes reasonable well-tailored measures to fill the gap in local authority, and will go far in helping to prevent future acts of violence against Native women nationwide. Thank you for again including these vital provisions in your VAWA Reauthorization.

    Sincerely, Mark Mitchell, Governor.

    ____ American Medical Association, Chicago, IL, February 5, 2013.

    Hon. Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington, DC.

    Hon. Mike Crapo, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

    Dear Senators Leahy and Crapo: On behalf of the physician and medical student members of the American Medical Association (AMA), I am writing to express our support for S. 47, the ``Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.'' This bill, which reauthorizes the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), would strengthen and improve existing programs that assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

    While violence against adult women has decreased 60 percent since VAWA was first passed in 1994, it remains a critical problem in our country and much more work remains to be done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey released in December 2011, one in five women in the United States has been raped in her lifetime and one in four women has been the victim of severe physical violence by a partner. Domestic and sexual violence is a health care problem and one of the most significant social determinants of health for women and girls.

    We are pleased that S. 47 would address some of the critical gaps in delivery of health care to victims by strengthening the health care system's identification and assessment of, and response to, victims. We also appreciate and support language in Title V of the bill on the development and testing of quality improvement measures for identifying, intervening, and documenting victims of domestic violence that recognizes and aligns with the important work underway by the AMA, the National Quality Forum, and other stakeholders in the quality improvement arena.

    We commend you for your long-standing support for victims of violence and abuse and for your leadership in introducing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. We urge swift passage of your bill in the Senate and look forward to working with you to ensure enactment of this important legislation this year.

    Sincerely, James L. Madara, MD.

    Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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