Durbin Delivers Opening Remarks During Hearing On Renewing And Strengthening The Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered his opening statement during a hearing entitled “Renewing and Strengthening the Violence Against Women Act.”  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which requires legislative renewal every five years, initially expired in late 2018 due to the government shutdown.  After a brief reauthorization in the temporary spending bill, it expired again in February 2019.  Though funding for critical programs has continued, a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill is necessary to strengthen a critical lifeline for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.  Durbin is co-leading a bipartisan group of Senators in an effort to renew and strengthen this legislation. 

Key quotes:

“And over the past 18 months, many survivors have been forced into the most vulnerable position of all: Isolated at home with an abuser. During this pandemic, nearly four in ten rape crisis centers—and nearly half of YWCA domestic violence programs—have reported an increase in demand for their services. Police departments throughout the country have also reported a spike in arrests and calls related to domestic violence.”

“A friend of mine, and vocal advocate for survivors of domestic violence, the late Sheila Wellstone used to say, ‘I find it absolutely intolerable to think that a woman’s home can be the most violent, most dangerous, and oftentimes most deadly place she can be.’ This is the unacceptable reality for far too many women in America. And that’s why the Senate must reauthorize, and strengthen, the law that, for nearly 30 years, has transformed the way we address sexual and domestic violence in America: the Violence Against Women Act.”

“Like the House-passed bill, our legislation will modernize and improve this vital law—and it won’t rollback the progress that we have made. This new version of the Violence Against Women Act will not only provide funding to the organizations and resources that support survivors; it will invest in critical prevention and education efforts; it will improve access to services for survivors in rural areas and those who require culturally specific services; it will enhance protections for Native American women and children; it will help keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of abusers; and it will provide survivors with the support they need by expanding access to legal services and other crucial programs.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.