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U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke Votes Against Passage of H.R. 4970, the Republican Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012

Today, with a vote of 222 to 205, the House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012.  Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke voted against the measure, because it failed to protect all women.  This is yet another example of the Republican war on women.

“I oppose, H.R. 4970, the Republican version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 (VAWA) because it removes key provisions from the bi-partisan passed Senate bill ensuring all victims are assisted regardless of religion or sexual orientation.

“Specifically, it omits protections for vulnerable communities and removes existing protections for immigrant women. It also gets rid of language to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons do not face discrimination when seeking services from VAWA funded programs.

“Since VAWA was originally enacted, the reporting of domestic violence has increased by 51%.  But, by eroding important provisions, H.R. 4970 discourages victims from reaching out for help and working with law enforcement to prosecute their abusers.  The result will be a decrease in the number of domestic violence reports, an increase in child abuse and an increase in homicides.  This bill is yet another representation of the Republicans’ insensitivity towards women, children, and other underserved communities in this country. 

“H.R. 4970 would undermine the bi-partisan commitment to protect all victims of domestic violence, stalking, sex crimes, other serious crimes, and trafficking.  We cannot protect only certain types of victims.

“I represent the 11th Congressional District of Brooklyn, NY, which has the largest transgendered population in the country, and New York City as a whole has the second largest Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered (LGBT) population in the nation.  This year alone, cases of LGBT domestic violence have increased 38 percent from last year.

“Unlike the Senate’s version of the reauthorization of the VAWA, the House version does not expand the definition of “underserved” population to include members of the LGBT community. 

“The bill also harms the immigrant communities in my district and elsewhere in New York City. Many members of Congress, including many Republicans, have ancestors who entered the United States through NYC.  H.R. 4970 will prevent victimized immigrants from pursuing justice against their abusers, undermining the safety and security of our country.

“It makes no sense that, as a nation of immigrants, built with the strength of immigrants, we would not provide protection to immigrants. I feel like I’m in the movie Groundhog Day.  Every day, we hear same attacks over and over again.  Are we running out of options?  Are we scared of dealing with the real issues in this country, such as job creation?

“We should not put politics above victims.  I call on my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to support the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA.”