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Transcript of Pelosi, House Democrats Press Event Calling on House GOP to Pass Violence Against Women Act

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Congressman John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick held a press event today calling on the House Republican leadership to bring the bipartisan, Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act to the floor.  Below is a transcript of Leader Pelosi’s opening and closing remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you very much for being here.  I’m pleased to join my colleagues; Democratic Whip, Mr. Hoyer, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, the senior Democrat on the Rules Committee, Congressman John Conyers, our champion on the Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona.  Pleased to join them in welcoming all of you, and our special guest Laura Dunn, a law student from Baltimore, Maryland – University of Maryland, and Juana Majel Dixon of the National Congress of American Indians.

Okay, 500 days have passed since the Violence Against Women Act authorization has expired.  Since then the Senate, in a bipartisan way on two occasions, have passed the reauthorization; one just a matter of days ago.  The House Democrats have been eager to in a bipartisan fashion, as the Senate did, to support that bipartisan bill. 

What was it Steny?

Whip Hoyer.  Seventy-eight [to] twenty-two.

Leader Pelosi.  Steny likes to say those numbers.

[Laughter]

Remember those numbers.  Five hundred days, 78-22 to pass the bill in the manner that the Senate has done.  Instead, the Republicans in the House, unfortunately – and I hope that this does not remain the case, but unfortunately, at the moment, want to put forth a bill that is a non-starter for our nation’s women.  It’s just not fair to say we’re going to have – to prevent violence against women, not so fast [if] from the LGBT community, the immigrant community, the Native American community.

The bill leaves many victims without prevention – and that prevention is very important – that prevention, protection, or defense against violence, omits protections for the LGBT community, offers inadequate protection for Native Americans, and creates added hurdles for immigrant women.  It deletes provisions that help combat and prevent sexual crimes on campus. Just took that whole thing out of the Senate bill, and undermines law enforcement and removes human trafficking provisions.  Clearly, a bill not worthy of the challenge that we face.  Put simply, they would – the bill strays from the primary purpose of the Violence Against Women Act: to ensure the security of women in the face of abuse at home, in the workplace, in their communities, indeed in our country.

So enough is enough, the time – 500 days have passed, 78 to 22 in the Senate.  Once again, why don’t we just make life simple and pass what the Senate did in a bipartisan way, majority of the Republicans in the Senate voting for it, all of the women – Democrats and Republicans in the Senate – voted for it.  What are we waiting for?

With that, I am pleased to yield to our distinguished Democratic Whip, Mr. Hoyer, who has been a champion on this issue for decades.

***

Leader Pelosi.  Actually, the fact is, that some of the categories that they leave out are the categories – are those people who need these protections the most – they need these protections the most.  What they’re doing, in terms of the Native American community, is really to undermine the principle of sovereignty which is in the Constitution, by layering on, making the provisions in this bill, not only worse than what is in the Senate bill, but less than what is in current law at this time.

So, I want to acknowledge – you see – all these wonderful representatives of support for the Violence Against Women Act as passed by the Senate, behind us here; I want to acknowledge Dara Baldwin of the National Counsel of Independent Living.  You’re going to have to wave there, because I can’t turn around every time.  Bill Bernstein of the Mosaic Family Services, Daniel Carter, National Campus Safety Index, Julie Fulcher, Break the Cycle, Desiree Hoffman, Young Women’s Christian Association – USA, Dr. Alice Howard, National Counsel of Black Women, Allendra Letsome, Nation Organization of Women, Ellie Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation, Keeli Sorenson, Safe Horizon, and Ivy Suriyopas, Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund. And Ivy Suriyopas, can you say it correctly for me? Suriyopas. 

[Laughter]

Thank you all.  Let us salute them for the work that they, and all of you, are doing on this account.

As our colleagues were speaking, I was remembering from the mid ‘90s when we passed this bill, that we then had to take it to a place – with Steny, with Rosa DeLauro, Nita Lowey, now the senior Democrat on Appropriations – and get the funding for it.  We always worked in a bipartisan way.  It didn’t mean everybody agreed on every subject all of the time, but we worked in a bipartisan way to get the funding.  Other kinds of things raised their heads; like for example – if a woman wanted to leave an abusive situation and she was seeking legal services, the law was that she, that you had to test the income of the abuser.  And so, of course, that gave her no opportunity to get the legal services, because the very person who was abusing her had the income – she did not.

So, in any event, all along the way it’s been a fight for women, and it’s hard to understand this, as our chairman, Mr. Conyers said: ‘It’s hard to understand, why are they doing this?’  Are they so extreme that they paint themselves so far away from a bipartisan majority in the United States Senate, when a majority of Republicans supported this bill, all of the women – Democrats and Republicans supported this bill, where are the women in this Republican Caucus to support their sisters in the community?

With that, I know my colleagues will be pleased to take any questions you may have on this subject.