Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at a press conference with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats calling for House Republicans to take up the bipartisan, Senate-passed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
"Thank you very much, Madam Leader. Violence against women. We take an oath to protect the Constitution, but in effect we take an oath to protect all of our people. All of our people, not some of our people. America has a history of not protecting all of our people all of the time. We are trying, continuously, to overcome the exclusion of some.
"The Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate was inclusive, it wanted to protect all of our people. It wanted to encourage all people to come forward and bring to the attention of authorities that they had been abused so the abuser can be stopped and not abuse others. Whether on a reservation, whether they be members of the LGBT community, whether they be immigrants, and perhaps afraid to come forward. And in the fear to come forward they will allow the abuser to continue to abuse. That’s what this issue is about.
"That’s why I would urge my Republican colleagues, and Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor, to bring the Senate bill to the Floor for a vote. I believe, almost, I believe every Democrat will vote for it. And there are 17 Republicans, and 2 other Republicans who didn’t get to sign the letter, 19 Republicans who have said to their leadership: bring the Senate bill to the Floor… You’ll need 218 [to pass a bill] and [19 Republicans plus 200 Democrats] makes 219, and we’re over the number needed to pass the Senate bill, which passed 78-22. Now the relevance of 78-22 is that’s 78 percent of the United States Senate. Every Democrat voted for it, and a majority – a majority – of Republicans voted for it. This is one of the most bipartisan bills that I’ve seen in the last two years and two months.
"The House has an opportunity to embrace a bipartisan bill which seeks to, and does in fact, protect all. All people. That’s what America’s about. Not segmenting our people. Not excluding some people, not saying to some: well, we really don’t care about protecting you. If we’re going to protect all people, we need to make sure that all people can come forward to help us stop abuse of women, of children, of men, of anybody who is abused.
"Let’s hope the House leadership sees the wisdom of the Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan vote and brings it to the Floor. And I want to thank everybody who’s here, I want to thank those who’ve assumed great courage. I want to thank Louise Slaughter for her very early leadership on this issue. Way out front she and Patricia Schroeder. I want to thank John Conyers who’s been such a hero of civil rights. And I want to thank our present sponsors and all of you who have the courage to come forward to say: I want to help. Eleanor Smeal I want to thank you for your great leadership on this issue.
"Unfortunately, I have another meeting, but I wanted to be here so that it was well known that our party is united on this. But frankly, the Republican party ought to be united as well. The protection of all people is not a partisan issue. Hopefully we can move the Senate bill. Thank you very much."