Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to call upon House Republicans to enact the bipartisan, Senate-passed Violence Against Women Act and allow consideration of the House Democratic alternative to sequestration before debilitating across-the-board cuts take effect, harm our economy, and undermine job creation. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentle lady for yielding and for her leadership as the senior Democrat on the Rules Committee. Today, we have an interesting discussion. We are debating the rule that will enable us to bring to the floor the Violence Against Women Act. As part of the debate on the rule, [Democrats] are asking to [vote] ‘no’ on the previous question, which will enable us also to not only vote on the Violence Against Women Act, but enact completion, to go onto voting on a proposal that the Democrats have to resolve the sequester issue.
“I’ll start first though with the Violence Against Women Act. You know, as of yesterday, it was over 500 days since the Violence Against Women Act had expired. Reauthorization is long overdue. Last year, the Senate, in a bipartisan way, passed a bill that was comprehensive, that did the job. The Senate – the House Republicans resisted that. Here we are again, this year, last week, the House Republicans – the Senate, the Senate in a bipartisan way, passed 78-22, the Violence Against Women Act, which is comprehensive and does the job. That means 78 percent of the Senate voted – 78 percent of the Senate voted for this Violence Against Women Act. It means, also, that all of the women in the Senate – Democrats and Republicans alike – voted for this act. It also means that a majority of the Republicans in the Senate, a majority of the Republicans in the Senate voted for this comprehensive Violence Against Women Act.
“So, the Senate has passed it overwhelmingly with a majority of Republicans supporting it. The President stands ready to sign it. Democrats in the House support it, we have our own, we’ll call upon that, [the] leadership of Gwen Moore, who has a similar bill in the House. We stand ready to support the Senate version. The Senate has passed it, we support it, the President’s ready to sign it. Once again, the Republicans in the House are the obstacles to passing this legislation.
“It’s a – I just, it’s really hard to explain to anyone why we would say to the women of America: ‘women of America step forward, we are stopping violence against women – not so fast if you’re an immigrant, not so fast if you’re a member of the LGBT community, not so fast if you’re a Native American.’ What is that? Violence against some women, but not others? And quite frankly, the groups that are excluded by the House bill are the groups that are in most need of protection against violence. So, I would hope that in the course of the debate that we will move onto on the Violence Against Women Act, that we will all open our hearts to what is needed to reduce violence in the lives of America’s women.
“In the meantime, we have a procedure that is not preferable, preferable, we have asked over and over again, as the distinguished gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Van Hollen has said: this will be the third time we were asked to get a vote on a Democratic alternative. The American people want to know why – why can’t we pass something to avoid sequester, sequestration? We have this proposal that is, that is fair, that does make cuts, that does produce revenue, that does not impede growth with jobs in our economy. And all we want is a vote, why can’t – why do we have to beg, hat in hand, for a vote on the floor of the House in this marketplace of ideas?
“What are the Republicans afraid of? They may be afraid that it will win because it is, makes so much sense, that their Members may be attracted to vote for it, or they may not want to put their Members on record voting against something that is so balanced, that is so commonsense driven, that is a solution – a solution to sequestration. What does sequestration mean? Well, whatever it means, this is what it equals: sequestration equals unemployment, sequestration equals job loss. And we just came, we cannot have a slowing down of our economic growth, we cannot afford the, losing the 700,000 jobs – that’s the low estimate that has been put forth by economists and by the Congressional Budget Office itself.
“So, all we’re hoping is that on the previous question, we urge people to vote ‘no’ on the previous question, which means that we would then be allowed to come to the floor to take up the Violence Against Women Act and also to take up the sequestration bill. It is, really, something that deserves debate on the floor of the House. The Republican leadership has said: ‘well, we voted on that last year.’ Last year was another Congress. That Congress ended. How to make a law: Congress ends, a new Congress – we have an election, a new Congress begins, the Constitution says: ‘bills that relate to revenue, or to appropriations must begin in the House.’ So, they say: ‘we did it last year;’ doesn’t count, ‘let the Senate begin,’ that’s not what the Constitution says.
“So, let us take our responsibility and not be afraid of the ideas that people sent us here to discuss. We don’t have to agree on every point, but we certainly should have an opportunity on the floor of the House. People across the country are talking about this. You can’t turn on any media without them talking about this. The only place we can’t talk about it, or get a vote on it, is on the floor of the House of Representatives.
“Just plain wrong. I urge a ‘no’ vote on the previous question and a ‘no’ vote on the Republican Violence Against Women Act, and a ‘yes’ vote on the bipartisan Senate bill, when we have an opportunity to vote on that.
“And with that, I yield back to the distinguished Ranking Member.”