Pelosi Remarks at Press Event to Introduce the 2018 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, other Democratic Members of Congress and advocates to introduce the 2018 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act [VAWA]. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
Leader Pelosi Opening Remarks.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you. Let us once again acknowledge the great leadership of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in putting all of this together.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee very carefully presented the provisions of the legislation. All of them fraught with meaning. All of it making a difference in the lives of so many people and when we had the debates about these bills before, we wanted to be sure to include women from the LGBTQ community, women from reservations, women in the immigrant community had protections because some of them, while they were worthy of it, were also some of the most vulnerable. Thank you for having the comprehensive nature of the bill that does all of that.
It was acknowledged we are joined by an array of non-partisan, bipartisan leaders in the community on this issue. I join Congresswoman Jackson Lee, in welcoming them, but I do want to acknowledge, we saw earlier Lois Frankel, the chair of the Women’s Caucus, Debbie Dingell of the Domestic Violence Caucus, but we’ve now been joined by John Delaney of Maryland, Brad Schneider of Illinois, Annie Kuster has been here from New Hampshire, you’ll hear from our distinguished Whip Mr. Hoyer, Gwen Moore — really a heroine in this movement, her personal story, her relentless, persistent dissatisfied advocacy enabled us to pass a great bill before. Thank you Gwen Moore. Let’s hear it for Gwen Moore
And we’ll be hearing from the distinguished Ranking Member of the Committee who helped facilitate all of this and has been a champion over time, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Ranking Member and soon to be chair, Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary. Congressman Al Green of Texas who’s worked with us on this, thank you Al Green and Congresswoman [Frederica Wilson]. She’s been so relentless on this issue. Thank you Frederica.
Let me just put this in a little historic perspective. It was one of our former colleagues, Louise Slaughter, who brought us all to Seneca Falls in the 90s when we were observing the 150th anniversary of Seneca Falls. And at that time, the Park Service took us on a tour of the area and took us to the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton who, along with others, was part of the movement. I mean, she was the mother, a suffragette. And she was a mom, she had five kids. Her father was an enlightened person. He put the home that they lived in, in her name. This was remarkable, 170 years, 150 years ago from then. And Susan B. Anthony would come to her home, one of them would stir the pot with the kids running around, the other one would take down notes, taking turns and then Susan B. Anthony would hit the road with what they were doing.
And the reason I mention that is because the home was on a knoll and Elizabeth Cady Stanton could hear domestic violence down below in the shanties. She could hear domestic violence. It was part of this thing about women, women being respected. It was part of it then.
When this bill, and that was again July 19th, 170 years ago and it was again, part of the inspiration and motivation, the insistence, that something be done. So, here we are. In another few weeks we will celebrate women having the right to vote, the fruit of the labor of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many others. Sojourner Truth and so many others.
But, in the meantime, this issue has for the longest time gone unattended until we passed the bill in the 90s. Under the leadership of Joe Biden, actually, in the United States Senate. But it was bipartisan. It was bipartisan and then we had the funding, right Steny [Hoyer] in Appropriations, bipartisan. And we hope that it can continue in that way. And I do believe in how you’ve put this together that will follow that tradition.
Nearly 23 years ago, we enacted the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. It was part of the crime bill, uniting communities to tackle the horrific plague of violence together and ensuring support for survivors.
Today, again, we are honored to be here with the advocates. I saw the YWCA pin said ‘We’re on a mission.’ We’re on a mission. And we are indeed. It is an outrage that one in four women will face domestic violence in her lifetime. One in four women. No woman should ever have to live in fear for her life, even in the safety of her own home. Experts report a significant increase in calls on domestic violence hotlines this past year, that may be because the Me Too movement has raised the visibility, but as the Congresswoman indicated in her presentation, Sheila Jackson Lee, because of the Violence Against Women Act, the situation has improved for so many.
Today’s bill upholds our oath to protect all Americans ensuring protections for every woman, brother, in the LGBTQ, tribal lands and among immigrants, as was mentioned earlier. VAWA has been historically bipartisan. We hope our Republican colleagues will be joining, they are certainly welcome and perhaps were part of putting the bill together.
Democrats will never stop fighting to wipe out domestic and sexual violence and we will not stop fighting until this plague has been banished forever from our homes, community and country.
I want to thank Kate, and Lisalyn – where’s Kate? You’ll be hearing from some of our colleagues but our VIPs today are Kate Ranta, who will tell her story and Liz and Jacob for honoring us with your presence, the generosity of spirit that you have to share your story.
And now, I’d like to turn it over to a warrior, lifelong champion of women’s rights, a leader in this VAWA fight over the years, our distinguished Whip Steny Hoyer.
Leader Pelosi Closing Remarks.
Leader Pelosi. Thank you Congresswoman Jackson Lee for your great leadership on legislation but also mobilization to support all of them. With the leadership of Mr. Nadler, I know that this will soon be the law of the land in your Committee.
Let me just say why what Sheila [Jackson Lee] just said is so important to this discussion: nothing can match the eloquence of personal stories, like Kate shared and that Lisalyn referred to, that’s the case but you notice that when Mr. Hoyer said, ‘When I was there for the bill in 1995’ – as was I – ‘2000, 2005’ and then he said, ‘2013’ and now ‘2018.’
Well, it should have been 2005 — 2010 not 2013 and the reason it took so long is that there was resistance in the Congress for protections for LBGTQ and immigrant women communities. 600 days of back and forth, the reason we were able to prevail though is because the outside groups – we could do our inside maneuvering – the outside groups made the issue too hot to handle for those who were not supporting the reauthorization in a timely fashion.
Three years. Three years. So we want this to be on a regular basis so there is no gap in what the bill intends to do, only improvements on what it does and as well as working with other legislation that would be accompanying more progress as we go forward.
To the outside groups, thank you, you know your power. When we hear these stories, we don’t agonize, we organize and the sooner we can get this bill passed – remove all doubt from anybody’s mind – this is a priority in a bipartisan way for the Congress of the United States. Let’s hope we can do this as soon as we come back in September.
# # #