[Congressional Record: May 1, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
MOTION TO INSTRUCT CONFEREES ON H.R. 2215, THE 21ST CENTURY DEPARTMENT
OF JUSTICE APPROPRIATIONS AUTHORIZATION ACT
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I offer a privileged motion.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the motion.
The Clerk read as follows:
Ms. DeGette moves that the managers on the part of the
House at the conference on the disagreeing votes of the two
Houses on the Senate amendment to the bill H.R. 2215 be
(1) agree to title IV of the Senate amendment
(establishing a Violence Against Women Office); and
(2) insist upon section 2003 of the Omnibus Crime Control
and Safe Streets Act of 1968, as added by section 402 of the
House bill (establishing duties and functions of the Director
of the Violence Against Women Office).
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from
Colorado (Ms. DeGette) and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr.
Sensenbrenner) each will be recognized for 30 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Colorado (Ms. DeGette).
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members
may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks
on this motion to instruct conferees on H.R. 2215.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentlewoman from Colorado?
There was no objection.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, the motion before us now would instruct conferees to the
U.S. Department of Justice authorization bill to agree on the Senate
provisions to make the Violence Against Women Office independent within
the Justice Department, and also the House language that provides a
clearly defined list of important duties and authority that VAWO should
have. The combination of these provisions will effectively strengthen
the Violence Against Women Act so that it can carry out its mission.
Before I discuss the reasons why this is so important, I would like
to begin by recognizing two Members who have been integral to this
issue. The first one, the gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Baldwin), has
worked on this bill and this issue for quite some time, both as a
member of the Committee on the Judiciary and as a member of the
conference committee to H.R. 2215. Working to protect women from
domestic violence has always been a high priority for her and her work
to protect the integrity of the Violence Against Women Office in the
Department of Justice has been invaluable.
I would also like to recognize the work of the gentlewoman from New
York (Ms. Slaughter), who has always been a champion in the fight
against domestic violence throughout her distinguished tenure in
Congress. As one of the original sponsors of the Violence Against Women
Act, she was integral to its passage. The gentlewoman continues to be a
leader who we all look to on the issues and many other issues as well.
I want to thank these esteemed Members for their leadership and say
what an honor it has been to work with them on this issue.
Mr. Speaker, the Violence Against Women Office of the U.S. Department
of Justice was created in 1995 to implement the programs created under
the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. The creation of this office was
critical to transforming the work done in the States to address the
issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The establishment of this office meant that for the very first time
there was a strong showing of leadership from the Federal Government on
the issue of domestic violence. This leadership has lent guidance and
support to all the different entities at the State level to work to
reduce the incidence and lessen the impact of violence against women.
Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, the courts, and victim service
organizations have all been assisted by the guidance given by the
Violence Against Women Office. That office has served as a powerful
voice within the administration, ensuring that keeping women and
children safe from abuse is a top priority of the Federal Government.
The office also administers grants to States, tribal communities,
local communities, and domestic violence and sexual assault providers
to assist with improving the methods in which the criminal and civil
justice systems respond to violent actions against women.
How has the office improved the way we deal with domestic violence? I
would just like to describe a few ways in which the office has been
transformative on the issue. The Violence Against Women Office has
worked with U.S. Attorneys to ensure enforcement of the Federal
criminal statutes contained in the Violence Against Women Act and
assisted the Attorney General in formulating policy relating to civil
and criminal justice for women.
The office also works closely with State and local organizations,
with the understanding that ending violent crimes against women and
children requires coordinated community-based responses. It administers
over $270 million in grants each year to assist States and tribes to
deal with the problem of domestic violence. The office also ensures the
appropriate training of judges and other law enforcement personnel.
The Department of Justice Health and Human Services National Council
on Violence Against Women, staffed by the Violence Against Women
Office, has raised awareness in this country about the nature and
harmful effects of domestic violence and, as a result, there is a great
deal more awareness of domestic violence and its effect among the
These are just a few of the myriad ways in which the Violence Against
Women Office has provided leadership. So what exactly is the problem we
are here to address? Unfortunately, the Violence Against Women Office
has never been instituted under Federal statute, and much of its power
has been undermined, thereby reducing its effectiveness. Because this
office was never instituted under a Federal statute, it is vulnerable
to being stripped of its power. And, indeed, that is exactly what has
been happening lately.
In fact, there is nothing to prevent this administration or any other
administration from summarily shutting the office down completely.
Right now, the office is in a location well outside the main Department
of Justice building, and its director, who used to have a seat at daily
meetings of executive leadership with the Attorney General, now has
very limited access to the power structure within the agency.
Just a few months ago, in fact, the policy office was effectively
shut down. This completely undermines it and hobbles the office's
ability to retain its status both as a national resource and an
international leader on the issue of domestic violence.
Currently, the Justice Department is engaged in reorganizing internal
offices that distribute grant funding, including the Violence Against
Women Office. These plans, unfortunately, include reducing the already
understaffed office as well as consolidating its funding goals with
other unrelated grant programs. This again will only serve to further
undercut the effectiveness of the office.
Now, the good news is that both the Senate and the House DOJ
authorization bills take important steps to remedy this situation. What
we need to do now is to combine the best provisions of both bills to
protect this office from any further erosion of its status and ability.
Both the House- and Senate-passed bills would statutorily institute the
Violence Against Women Office, which is a very important step. However,
we need to make sure that the differences between the two bills are
resolved in such a manner that it will guarantee the effectiveness of
The Senate language creates an independent office within the
Department of Justice, giving it a high profile and guaranteeing the
ability of the office to formulate policy and to assist the other
governmental agencies in their work on violence against women. This,
combined with the House language, listing its duties and authorities,
will restore the Violence Against Women Office to its former position
as a national leader, and an agent for change on the issue of combating
domestic violence around the country.
The Federal Government should not forfeit our leadership on such an
important issue. We owe it to the women and children in this country
who have been affected by the scourge of domestic violence. I urge my
colleagues to vote for my motion to instruct.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may
Mr. Speaker, the motion to instruct conferees offered by the
gentlewoman from Colorado would instruct conferees on H.R. 2215 to
agree to title 4 of the Senate amendment but insist on adding the new
section 2003 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968,
as added by section 402 of the House bill.
I will not oppose the motion to instruct offered by the gentlewoman
from Colorado, but there are a few things that I think she ought to
think about before the conferees actually meet on this subject.
The motion will basically instruct conferees to create a separate and
independent Violence Against Women's Office in the Department of
Justice headed by a director appointed by the President by and with the
advice and consent of the Senate. I supported such an amendment in the
House Committee on the Judiciary, but in response to concerns about
this proposal, it was amended to permit the attorney general the
discretion to put the office in the Office of Justice Programs so that
the grant-making function of both offices could coordinate. The
Department of Justice has testified it prefers the House provision, and
is concerned about balkanizing the various grant making offices that
currently exist in OJP.
Most would agree that the current organizational structure at OJP is
in need of reform, and this administration is undertaking steps to
streamline and improve the organization and administration of OJP. As a
result of various authorizing statutes and funding mandates by
Congress, and organizational decisions made by past attorneys general,
OJP consists of five bureaus, six
program offices, and seven administrative offices. Each of the five
bureaus is headed by a presidential appointee by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate. This structure does not include the Office
of Community Oriented Policing.
Some argue persuasively that mandating that there be a separate VAWA
office will further complicate the current structure at DOJ and make it
more dysfunctional. Furthermore, a completely separate office would
require additional resources to support the administrative functions of
the office. I have heard that a completely separate office would
require $10- to $15 million in funding, which I presume would come out
of VAWA program funds.
I want to repeat that because the consequence of establishing this
office precisely as the gentlewoman from Colorado (Ms. DeGette) is
advocating might mean $10- to $15 million more in administrative
expenses, and $10- to $15 million less in program, depending upon the
decisions being made by the appropriators. I advise the gentlewoman
that is a potential consequence of this motion.
I have discussed this matter with a number of Members and my
constituents. The staff of the Committee on the Judiciary has met with
Senator Biden's staff, the Senate Judiciary Committee staff, and
various groups who support the creation of a separate office. As the
conference proceeds, all of these viewpoints have and will continue to
be heard, about I am confident a compromise can be reached.
The gentlewoman's motion says nothing about the coordination of
grant-making functions of the new VAWA office with OJP. I can only
assume that she would like to create a completely separate grant-making
structure that does not have to coordinate with OJP, thereby siphoning
program funds to pay for administrative infrastructure. A bigger
bureaucracy is not necessarily better. Many would prefer to spend
precious Federal dollars on combating violence against women instead of
creating a new bureaucracy to implement the Violence Against Women Act.
Also, while the motion instructs conferees to include the provision
of the House bill relating to the duties and functions of the director
of the VAWA office, the motion says nothing about a similar provision
found in section 403 of the Senate bill. I can only assume the
gentlewoman wants it dropped.
To those who say that a separate office is needed to raise the
profile of the director in these issues, I would direct them to the
very language of the House bill which the motion would direct conferees
to include. Under that language, the director of the VAWA office would
serve as special counsel to the attorney general on the subject of
violence against women. The director would work with the judicial
branches of Federal and State governments on these issues. The director
would serve at the request of the attorney general as the
representative of the Department of Justice on task forces, committees
and commissions addressing violence against women issues. The director
would serve at the request of the President as the U.S. representative
on these issues before international bodies.
The list goes on. I do not know what could be more high profile than
designated in the statute that the director will be the point person in
the Federal Government on issues relating to violence against women.
Mr. Speaker, I support the motion because it generally captures that
which has already been agreed to and will allow the conferees to
continue to work on these and other very important administrative and
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from
New York (Ms. Slaughter), and congratulate her for all of her many
years of fine work on this issue.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, this motion is in very good hands, and
the gentlewoman has done such a good job describing it that I am going
to be brief.
The DeGette motion instructs conferees to accept the Senate provision
to create the independent Violence Against Women Office in the
Department of Justice, and to accept the House provisions defining the
duties and authority of the Violence Against Women's Office, and I
thank the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) for accepting
this motion. We appreciate that very much.
This office has been really important. Since 1995, it has heightened
awareness throughout the United States about what happens with domestic
violence, sexual assault and stalking. This office formulates policy,
and administers more than $270 million annually in grants to State
governments as well as to local community organizations, trains police
and prosecutors and courts to address violence against women. In
addition, it assists these organizations with the ability to give the
highest quality of services to the victims and full administration of
The importance of the Violence Against Women Office cannot be
overestimated. In fact, and I think this is very important, a survey
conducted by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports
that domestic violence has dropped 21 percent since the inception of
this office, showing that the grants that they have given out have
borne fruit. But much more remains to be done. Nearly 25 percent of the
women in the United States, that is one-quarter of the women who are
the majority in the country, reported that they have been physically or
sexually assaulted by a current or former intimate partner at some
point in their lifetime. We think that makes it worth $10- to $15
The statistics illustrate the importance of that office to the
health, safety and the very survival of women in many parts of this
country. As has been pointed out, this wonderful resource is not
authorized by statute, and as such, is not a permanent part of the
anti-violence efforts. We want to pass the bill H.R. 28, the Violence
Against Women Office Act, which would make it permanent. I was pleased
that the bill was included in the Department of Justice authorization
approved by the House last year.
It is for this reason we stand today to ask the conferees to agree to
the House and Senate-passed language and ensure the Violence Against
Women Office is given the permanent status that it desperately needs to
address the crisis of violence against women in the coming years.
The office's work with grantees on very sensitive issues is vital,
and can be best addressed through a separate and independent office and
not the more broadly focused Office of Justice Programs. In addition,
we want the conferees to adopt the detailed description of the duties
of the director of the Violence Against Women's Office, contained in
the House-passed Department of Justice authorization bill. It defines
several important duties for the director, including serving as a
special counsel to the attorney general on the subject of violence
against women, and serving as a liaison with the judicial branches of
the Federal and State governments on matters relating to violence
Ending violence against women and girls is an ongoing struggle, and
one of our best tools is the office. It is imperative that it be made
permanent, and I urge my colleagues to support the office.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman
from Maryland (Mrs. Morella).
Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Speaker, first of all I thank the chairman of the
Committee on the Judiciary for yielding me this time. I rise in strong
support of the DeGette motion to instruct the conferees of H.R. 2215,
the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization
Since 1994, Congress has demonstrated our commitment to eradicating
domestic violence. Passing the DeGette amendment is consistent with our
demonstrated goal of protecting victims and stopping the cycle of
violence that plagues millions of children every day.
This motion refers specifically to the bill introduced last year by
the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Slaughter) and myself to make the
Violence Against Women Office at the Department of Justice permanent
and independent with qualified experts in the field of domestic
violence. I support the inclusion of the Senate language in combination
with the House language
in the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act.
A permanent and visible office is essential. It is essential to
implement the Violence Against Women Act programs, and expertise among
personnel promotes the most effective and efficient use of Federal
dollars. Since the creation of the Violence Against Women Office in
1995, we have learned the critical importance of securing permanence
for this office. The office has successfully administered effective
VAWA grant programs, and heightened awareness of domestic violence,
sexual assault, and stalking within the Federal Government and
throughout the Nation. The office also provides invaluable expertise to
States, developing programs to reduce domestic violence in their
Domestic violence rates have declined by over 21 percent since the
passage of the Violence Against Women Act; and yet a July 2000 study
reported by the Department of Justice, in that study nearly 25 percent
of women surveyed stated that they had been physically and/or sexually
assaulted by a current or a former intimate partner at some point in
their lifetime. These statistics are unacceptable. As violence
continues to demonstrate so many families, a permanent Violence Against
Women Office is necessary to ensure that VAWA's benefits continue to
reach victims all across the country.
The current office is not specifically authorized by statute, and as
such, is a de facto part of the Office of Justice Programs. Within OJP,
the Violence Against Women Office has developed exceptional expertise
in both the efficacy of policy and the accountability of VAWA grant
administration. The Violence Against Women Act grant programs are
extensive and far reaching. The success of a grant depends on the
Department of Justice's development of good implementation policies and
Additionally, strong leadership of an independent Violence Against
Women Office is necessary for ensuring that the Federal criminal, civil
and immigration law responsibilities created by the VAWA and its
reauthorization in 2000 are carried out consistently, department-wide
to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and
trafficking. The office's work with grantees such as State coalitions
on these very sensitive and important issues is critical to meeting the
goals in the Violence Against Women Act.
I am confident that a combination of these provisions can establish
the independence of the office and avoid unnecessary duplication within
the existing infrastructure of the Department of Justice. Ending
violence against women requires constant education, advocacy and
implementation at all levels of our society, work that depends on
strong leadership from a Federal Violence Against Women Office.
Mr. Speaker, with this office, I believe that we can continue to make
progress on minimizing the epidemic of domestic violence that we
currently face. I urge my colleagues to join me in support of the
DeGette motion to instruct the conferees.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3\1/4\ minutes to the gentleman
from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the ranking member on the Committee on the
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the chairman of the
Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr.
Sensenbrenner), for coming here to make I think important improvements
and to make recommendations that I think we will take to heart in
considering where we go in terms of family abuse, violence against
women, which has been gaining increasing bipartisan support in both
bodies. I am very pleased with the work of the gentlewoman from
Colorado (Ms. DeGette), who brings this motion to instruct before us.
Mr. Speaker, remember that it was the gentlewoman from New York (Ms.
Slaughter) who has tried to give statutory foundation to the Violence
Against Women Office, and it was our colleague, the gentlewoman from
Wisconsin (Ms. Baldwin), on the Committee on the Judiciary whose
amendment was accepted and is now a subject of us instructing our
conferees how to move.
It is clear from this discussion that there is bipartisan support. We
still have a long way to go. But in Michigan, in Detroit, we are
getting ready for our second metropolitan area town hall meeting which
will be at Greater Grace Church at the end of this month. The first one
held over a year ago brought together for the first time police,
prosecutors, social workers, victims, family, clergy, lawyers and
community people who were really inspired by the Federal involvement in
What we are simply doing here today is letting our conferees know
that this office should be as strong and as independent as they can
make it because they have been working with the U.S. Attorneys, they
have been training the judges and the prosecutors and the members of
the private bar, they have been working with Immigration and
So this is a huge step forward. I am very pleased to be associated
with it. Obviously, the only direction we can go now, and we are
deciding this, I think, as we gain more experience with the office
itself, what we are trying to make sure is that we do not have an
office that is just a grant agency. We want to be able to distribute
grants where they are appropriate, but also it has to be a policy
mechanism that advises the administration and the Congress alike.
I thank all the Members on the floor that have spoken in support of
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I reserve my time.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to yield 3 minutes to the
distinguished gentlewoman from California (Ms. Harman).
Ms. HARMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding me time
and commend on a bipartisan basis the efforts of those on the floor
right now to help battered women.
The Violence Against Women Act was a promise by Congress to make
America and the home a safer place for women. This act promised to
finally treat domestic violence like the crime that it is, to improve
law enforcement, to make streets safer for women, and to vigorously
prosecute perpetrators. It promised more counseling and more shelters
to provide a safe haven for abused women.
But, Mr. Speaker, underfunding and neglect have made this promise
half-filled at best. The Violence Against Women Office cannot lead our
Nation's efforts to serve victims of domestic violence if it is merely
a check-writing organization. It needs strong statutory authority and
adequate staff to do its job.
The Violence Against Women Office is essential to the Government's
role in preventing violence, but private industry must also play a
Mr. Speaker, let me give you one example. One year ago, Harman
International lost a 26-year employee who was brutally attacked and
killed by her estranged husband. In response, Harman International
worked with the Family Violence Prevention Fund to develop a
comprehensive domestic violence prevention policy and to educate its
employees about domestic violence. Harman International's policy states
that domestic violence is not tolerated, and provides employees
flexibility to take time off to handle the legal and mental
consequences of domestic violence. The program protects those employees
and helps the company by recognizing that the work of a victim of
domestic violence suffers as she suffers.
But as Harman International was developing this policy, it discovered
that few other companies have similar policies and programs.
Mr. Speaker, we need to work across the board to prevent domestic
violence in both public and private sectors. I commend successful
efforts to date, like those of Rainbow Services, Ltd., a haven for
battered women in San Pedro, California, and I commend companies like
Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to vote for this important
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 4 minutes to the
distinguished gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Baldwin), a member of the
Committee on the Judiciary, who has done so much on this bill.
Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the DeGette motion to
strengthen the independence of the Violence Against Women Office within
the Department of Justice.
As we all know, violence against women continues to be a significant
problem in our Nation. Domestic violence and sexual assault are still
scourges on our Nation. The statistics are chilling. Nearly 1 in 3
women experience physical assault by a partner. These horrible crimes
damage lives and tear families apart. The Violence Against Women Act,
or VAWA for short, is a proven part of the solution to these problems.
There is much evidence of the success of VAWA. For example, in my
State of Wisconsin, before the availability of VAWA grants there were
only 15 nurses in the entire State who knew how to work with victims of
sexual assault, collect forensic evidence, and work with law
enforcement. Now there are over 150 nurses in Wisconsin who are trained
to help victims. This training not only helps put the victim more at
ease under the circumstances, but also increases the likelihood that
prosecutions will be successful.
What was not included when VAWA was reauthorized last session was a
permanent and statutorily authorized VAWA office within the Department
of Justice. The VAWA office has been key to raising awareness within
the Federal Government and the Nation about the impact of sexual
assault and domestic violence. It is well-recognized for its
distribution of $270 million in annual grants to local communities to
fight violence against women.
But the office does far more. The office also works with U.S.
Attorneys to enforce Federal criminal statutes. It provides technical
assistance to local prosecutors, health care professionals, shelter
staff, and domestic and sexual assault organizations.
Under the previous administration, the VAWO director was visibly and
actively involved in the every-day work of the Justice Department. She
participated in the daily meetings of the executive leadership with the
Attorney General. She was a major international voice on violence
against women issues, and consulted extensively with the various
divisions within the department about violence against women issues.
VAWA requires work with the FBI, the INS, and the civil and criminal
divisions of the Department of Justice.
Mr. Speaker, while I understand the management concerns that lead
some Members of Congress and the Department of Justice to want to
locate the Violence Against Women Office within the Office of Justice
Programs, I believe the mission of the Violence Against Women Office is
much larger than just a grant administration organization. There are
also limits on the Office of Justice Program's statutory authority to
engage in policy work. Under the current structure this has been a
serious impediment to the work against the Violence Against Women
Mr. Speaker, I include for the Record testimony of Lynn Rosenthal,
executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence,
that was given before the Committee on Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime
and Drugs in the other body. Her testimony provides numerous examples
of why we need an independent Violence Against Women Office.
Testimony of Lynn Rosenthal, Executive Director, National Network to
End Domestic Violence Before the U.S. Senate, Judiciary Committee,
Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, on behalf of
the National Network to End Domestic Violence, thank you for
providing the opportunity for me to share with you our views
on the critical role of the Violence Against Women Office.
The National Network is a network of statewide domestic
violence coalitions around the country, who in turn represent
more than 2,000 local domestic violence shelters and
programs, and hundreds of thousands of battered women and
In particular, I want to thank you, Senator Biden, for your
landmark report ``Violence Against Women: A Week in the Life
of American Women'' prepared by the Senate Judiciary in
October of 1992. This report, a snapshot of the lives of
women across the country, graphically described 200 incidents
of domestic and sexual violence that occurred in just one
week of one year. This report had a profound impact on my
personal commitment to end violence against women, and many
times over the past ten years I have returned to this report
when I have needed inspiration and guidance to continue this
important and often difficult work. It is this report that I
begin with today.
September 1, 1992 12:45 a.m.: Rural California- ``A woman
with five children is physically abused by her husband. He
punches her in the head with his fist. She sustains bruises.
She escapes and runs to a friend's house for the night. She
reports that she is afraid to call the sheriff because her
husband threatens to take their 11-month old baby.''
September 1, 1992 late afternoon: Maine- ``A woman in her
early twenties is thrown out of her trailer home by her
boyfriend as her two sons, ages two and three, watch. Bruised
and cut she attempts to leave with her sons. The two-year old
child is taken from her by her boyfriend and she is ordered
to leave and threatened with further violence. She departs
her home with one of her children, but does not contact the
What might be different today for these women and countless
like them because of the Violence Against Women Act? Because
of VAWA, hundreds of police officers have been trained in the
dynamics that keep these women trapped in violence
relationships, and now play leadership roles in their
communities. Because of VAWA, legal assistance is available
for women facing the devastating fear of losing their
children to perpetrators. Because of VAWA, more women reach
out for help, seek shelter, obtain protective orders and are
treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement officers.
It was VAWA's critical focus on victim safety and offender
accountability that brought about these important changes in
In retrospect, Congress conceived a brilliant formula for
successful implementation of VAWA. Congress provided the
states with critical funds and policy direction through the
state formula grants and discretionary programs such as the
pro arrest grants, rural, tribal, legal assistance to
victims, research and training and technical assistance
programs that collectively comprise the Violence Against
But there is another partner to thank in this work, a
partner who often works quietly but tirelessly to ensure that
Congress' intent and the needs of the field are never
forgotten as the day-to-day work in the field continues. That
partner is the Violence Against Women Office.
First established as a high-level Office in Main Justice
with full access to the policy-making and implementation
functions of the Department, VAWO and its expert staff
created a national awareness about the impact of violence
against women that had never existed before. Within weeks of
being appointed as the first director of VAWO, Bonnie
Campbell was inundated with requests for help and technical
expertise from the national and international leaders.
Governors called, asking VAWO to help them plan statewide
strategies for addressing domestic violence, sexual assault,
and stalking. Leaders in government from other countries
asked VAWO to share the U.S.'s groundbreaking legislation and
methods with them. The Director of VAWO was a leader of the
U.S. delegation to the U.N. World Conference on Women in
These images of leadership greatly inspired the work of
those of us on the frontlines, many of whom had been
struggling for many years with limited resources and lack of
public attention to the bruised and bleeding women we were
seeking in our programs every day. The vision of a
Presidentially-appointed, highly placed spokesperson
galvanized the work at the state and local level. State and
local legislators and policy makers were impressed with the
strong commitment shown by the Department of Justice to
ending violence against women, and became inspired to become
leaders themselves in this battle.
The work of advocates at the state and local level was made
easier and more effective because VAWO took on the equally
important challenge of coordinating the interagency work that
VAWA mandated. Your vision for ending violence against women
was broad. VAWA created numerous grant programs in DOJ that
required coordination with the grant programs in HHS, created
new federal crimes, established new federal immigration
rights, required states to honor each other's protection
orders, established standards for the local issuance of
protection orders and arrests of perpetrators of domestic
violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and required state
and local communities to come together in multidisciplinary
efforts to develop policy and strategies for dealing with
violence against women.
The number of agencies and offices required to carry out
these substantive responsibilities is stunning. VAWA's
mandates impact the U.S. Attorney's Offices, the INS, the
FBI, HHS, the Civil and Criminal Divisions of DOJ, even
parts of HUD, Labor, and DoD. Leadership was needed to
coordinate these far-reaching implementation efforts--and
VAWO stepped ably into that role, convening the National
Advisory Council (an unprecedented public and private
partnership of business, government, and public service
sectors) and working with the various federal entities
charged with the work of implementing VAWA. If VAWO had
not been there, it is hard to imagine how the demand for
federal and state coordination, leadership, and policy
guidance could have been met.
When VAWO was housed in Main Justice, the director and her
staff were able to work with other components of DOJ and
other federal agencies to develop comprehensive policies
regarding the implementation of VAWA. For example, the Full
Faith and Credit Provision of VAWA 1994 simply said that
states shall honor sister jurisdictions protective orders.
The plan language of this provision did not explain how a
state would know another
state's protective order is valid, nor did it say whether or
not a state must establish a protective order registry to
implement this law. These are the practical concerns of
turning a visionary law into a reality. VAWO led a
collaborative effort that included the DOJ Office of Policy
Development and the Executive Office of the U.S. Attorneys to
develop practical policy guidelines that make it possible for
all states, territories and tribes to make good use of the
Full Faith and Credit Provision of VAWA.
When VAWO moved to the Office of Justice Programs, the
responsibilities of the Office became more focused on the
technical aspects of grant making and less on the policy
issues that emerge in building programs that address victim
safety and offender accountability--the cornerstones of VAWA.
This trend seems to have continued under the new
administration, and is cause for great concern. Although we
have made great strides in some ways, in others our work is
just beginning. Our need for a vigorous, proactive Violence
Against Women Office has not diminished.
The tremendous needs and gaps uncovered by VAWA in 1994 led
to its reauthorization in 2000, and the work at the state and
local level has become more, not less, complex. VAWA requires
the criminal and civil justice systems to work together with
community services. VAWA funds prosecutors, courts, law
enforcement, victim services, community-based assistance
programs, tribal governments, and state coalitions. This
broad range of professionals in turn serves victims and
survivors living in rural towns and large urban cities, as
well as immigrant, disabled, and older victims of abuse. VAWA
grants provide needed services in communities of color and
communities of faith. And all of these services are provided
in the context of a complex system of federal, state, local,
and tribal laws.
Addressing all of these mandates, understanding all of
these laws, and reaching all of these communities is a tough
challenge on the state and local level. Now more than even,
we need an active, high-profile Violence Against Women Office
to help establish baseline standards for this increasingly
complex work, and to provide consistent interpretations as to
how the mandates of VAWA are to be met.
We need an Office staffed with program managers and policy
analysts that have subject matter expertise, not just grant-
making skills. Three examples of VAWA programs speak vividly
to this need for the combined functions of grant-making and
policy analysis within the same office. First, the Legal
Assistance for Victims Program grantees might well call VAWO
to ask for assistance in developing appropriate screening and
conflicts protocol, or for help in developing policies to
implement the new funding mandate that civil legal assistance
be provided to sexual assault survivors. This new area of law
requires guidance not simply on allowable expenses of a
grant, but on what the civil legal needs are of such victims,
and what challenges to expect in crafting these new programs.
It takes a policy analyst familiar with these complicated
issues to give the right answers or know how to find them.
The lives of sexual assault survivors all across the country
will be dramatically impacted by the answers to these
Second, jurisdictions receiving Grants to Encourage Arrest
funding needs to know how the VAWA 2000 amendments to the
Full Faith and Credit mandate of VAWA 1994 will impact their
program practices. For example, states must certify that its
laws, policies and practices do not require victims to bear
costs associated with prosecution, filing, registration or
service of a protective order. This requires not just grant
managers who know the paperwork needed to meet the
certification requirements, but policy experts who know how
to craft changes in state law and policies to come into
compliance with this new requirement.
Grantees of the Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforce
Protection Orders Program must also certify that their
jurisdictions do not allow the issuance of mutual protection
orders. If there is no legislative opportunity to satisfy
this funding condition, grantees will turn to VAWO for expert
guidance on alternative ways to meet this funding condition.
A policy analyst must be available to speak to the various
ways this requirement can be met, whether through changes in
court rules or administrative memorandums. What may seem a
technical certification requirement is so much more than a
check on a grant application. Requiring states to prohibit
the issuance of mutual protective orders as a condition of
funding is about fulfilling the intent of VAWA to make
systemic changes in the way states respond to critical issues
of victim safety. We need look no farther than the recent
highly publicized protective order case in Kentucky to know
the importance of such requirements.
Finally, the new immigration rights and procedures created
by VAWA are numerous and complex; grantees of all the VAWA
programs need technical assistance to help them understand
when critical immigration issues arise and how grantees can
best help immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual
assault, and staking. This work must be done very carefully.
The lives of whole families are in danger--this really is a
matter of life and death.
It is more important than ever that The Department of
Justice provides leadership and guidance, inspiration, and
policy support for the local and state work on domestic
violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Now, more than ever,
states need a strong Violence Against Women Office. It is
only through this leadership that we one day we will know for
certain that a week in the life of American women is no
longer a week filled with violence.
Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the recent actions on the part of
the administration that clearly indicate that the Violence Against
Women Office is not a high priority. The policy staff of the office is
woefully understaffed. In addition, the pending reorganization of OJP
threatens to dismantle the expertise the Violence Against Women Office
provides to local grantees.
The language added by the other body that this motion asks the House
to endorse would statutorily authorize an independent Violence Against
Women Office within the Department of Justice. I believe this
recognizes the importance of the office. I urge my colleagues to vote
in favor of this motion to instruct.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the
distinguished gentleman from New York (Mr. Nadler).
(Mr. NADLER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, in 1994, Congress passed the Violence
against Women Act, which has had great success in reducing violence
against women and domestic violence generally. One of the things that
act did was to create the Violence Against Women Office in the Justice
Department. That office has been instrumental in directing the efforts
against domestic violence. But the office has lost influence and is in
danger of losing its role or much of its role in the pending
reorganization within the Department of Justice.
With the strong bipartisan support, the House and the Senate have
both passed provisions in the appropriations authorization bill to make
the office permanent and statutory, but it is critical that the
statutory creation of this office reflect the essential components of
The office cannot serve as the leader in promoting the changes needed
to effectively serve victims of domestic violence, sexual stalking and
trafficking if it is merely a check-writing office, as it is often
regarded today. The office needs the authority to create policy
regarding violence against women and needs to have a presidentially-
appointed, Senate-confirmed director in order to ensure that these
issues continue to have a high profile at local, State, Federal and
This motion to instruct will accomplish these purposes, and that is
why I rise in support of the motion to instruct. I commend the
gentlewoman for offering it.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, let me say that many years ago in the now
receding past, I was privileged to be the sponsor in the Colorado
legislature of one of the first omnibus domestic violence bills in the
country, and in fact that bill was passed in 1995 in Colorado.
The thing we learned at that time was that one of the biggest
barriers to preventing and stopping domestic violence is a lack of
awareness by everybody around the country. This is a problem that is
faced nationwide, which is why Congress passed the Violence against
Women Act and why the Violence Against Women Office was set up in 1995.
However, if we are going to have a strong and effective Violence
Against Women Office, it must be permanent, it must be independent, and
it must be prepared to do much more than just simply administer grants.
It needs to do outreach and education, and it needs to have the kind of
stature within the Justice Department on a continuing basis that it did
when it was once instituted. So, for those reasons, it is essential
that we pass this motion to instruct and that we instruct the conferees
both to adopt the Senate provisions that establish the office and also
the House provisions that delineate the duties of the office.
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I commend Congresswoman DeGette for bringing
this motion to the floor and I thank her, Congresswoman
Slaughter, and Congresswoman Baldwin for their leadership on this
The Violence Against Women Office of the U.S. Department of Justice
was created in 1995 to implement the Violence Against Women Act. The
creation of this office greatly strengthened the efforts of states to
fight domestic violence, because for the first time, they had strong
leadership and funding support from the federal government.
Under President Clinton, the Violence Against Women Office was a
powerful voice within the Administration. The Director had strong
support from the White House, and was a recognized leader in the fight
to end domestic violence. It was clear that the safety of women and
children was a top priority for the federal government.
Under the leadership of President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft,
the Violence Against Women Office has been systematically weakened.
Just within the last two months, the policy department of the Violence
Against Women Office disappeared, and the Director of the office has no
access to the Attorney General or the President and no seat at the
table to affect the policies of this Administration with concern to
violence against women.
This is one of a series of actions by this Administration to diminish
the importance of women's issues.
In one of his first actions, in January 2001, President Bush closed
down the White House Office on Women's Initiatives and Outreach. The
purpose of this office was to advance policies such as the Family and
Medical Leave Act and to serve as a liaison between the White House and
advocates for women.
Next, President Bush tried to eliminate funding for the regional
Women's Bureau offices in the Department of Labor. The Women's Bureau
had a mission of promoting the welfare of working women, improving
their working conditions, and advancing their opportunities for
profitable employment. This was further evidence of the Administration
moving backwards on progress for women.
Violence against women doesn't rate highly in the Bush budget either.
The President's budget falls $111.3 million short of fully funding
critical programs such as transitional housing for victims of domestic
violence, shelter services, and rape education and prevention.
Obviously, President Bush does not support full funding of the Violence
Against Women Act.
Today we have the chance to send a clear message to the conferees,
that ending violence against women is a top priority. To do that, we
need to restore a strong, independent Violence Against Women Office
with the authority to impact critical public policy decisions. This is
not a time to backtrack on our commitment to ending domestic violence
I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this motion.
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in very strong support of
Representative DeGette's motion to agree to provisions in the DOJ
Authorization bill that strengthen and elevate the Violence Against
Women Office. This is an important motion that deserves our support.
Since 1995, the Violence Against Women Office at the Department of
justice has handled policy issues regarding violence against women,
provided national and international leadership on the subject and
worked with other DOJ offices to implement the mandates of the Violence
Against Women Act.
The Office is responsible for coordinating the training of judges,
law enforcement personnel and prosecutors in responding to victims of
domestic violence, stalking and assault. it works with states and
localities to provide a coordinated community response to domestic
violence and establishes public education initiatives to heighten
awareness about domestic violence.
The office has awarded more than $1 billion in grant funds, making
over 1,250 discretionary grants and 336 formula grants to states. These
grant programs help train personnel, establish specialized domestic
violence and sexual assault units, assist victims of violence, and hold
In Mercer County, New Jersey, local social service groups have used
grant funding from the Office to recruit and train pro bono attorneys
and advocates to help provide legal assistance to battered women and
Domestic violence is still shockingly pervasive in our society. The
National Violence Against Women Survey found that domestic abuse rates
remain disturbingly high. Clearly this violence is a national concern,
and we need to do everything within our capabilities to make sure that
it receives due attention.
The DeGette motion to instruct would go a long way toward
strengthening and elevating this office and its mission. The Violence
Against Women Office should be front and center in the Department of
Justice. I urge my colleagues to support this measure.
Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Congresswoman
DeGette's Motion to Instruct Conferees on Department of Justice
Authorization (H.R. 2215). This motion instructs conferees to agree to
Senate provisions to strengthen the Violence Against Women Office and
make it independent within the Justice Department.
The Violence Against Women Office (VAWO) of the U.S. Department of
Justice was created in 1995 to implement the laws and programs created
under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Through the creation of
VAWO, a clear voice of leadership on addressing domestic violence,
stalking, sexual assault and trafficking from the federal government.
VAWO has been a powerful voice within the Administration, ensuring that
the safety of women and children is a top priority to the federal
Because the Violence Against Women Office was never instituted under
federal statute, the administration and management of the office has
been at the discretion of leadership in the Department of Justice.
Consequently, VAWO has been slowly stripped of much of its power and
effectiveness. Presently, the Director of VAWO has very limited direct
access to the Attorney General or the White House. At one point, VAWO
helped advise every entity in the Justice Department charged with
implementing and enforcing laws created by VAWO. VAWO has seen all the
staff of that division, including its director, suddenly transferred to
places in the Department where they can no longer work on policy issues
Violence against women continues to remain a critical issue in our
society that requires special attention. In the U.S., nearly 25% of
women surveyed reported that they had been physically and/or sexually
assaulted by a current or former intimate partner at some point in
their lifetime, and 1 in 6 women has experienced an attempted or
completed rape in her lifetime. If VAWO will continue to be an integral
part of developing and implementing the Administration policy on
violence against women, it must have the authority to do so. The Senate
version of H.R. 2215 creates an independent Office within the main area
of Justice, giving it a high profile and guaranteeing the ability of
the Office to make policy and assist other governmental agencies in
their work on violence against women.
I support this measure and urge my colleagues to do the same. I would
like to take this opportunity to recognize the Women's Resource Center,
The Safety Zone, and The Women's Coalition in the Virgin Islands. These
are organizations in my district that work on violence against women
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. LaHood). Without objection, the previous
question is ordered on the motion to instruct.
There was no objection.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion to instruct
offered by the gentlewoman from Colorado (Ms. DeGette).
The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that
the ayes appeared to have it.
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a
quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Evidently a quorum is not present.
The Sergeant at Arms will notify absent Members.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 416,
nays 3, not voting 15, as follows:
[Roll No. 121]
Davis, Jo Ann
Johnson, E. B.
Mrs. CUBIN and Messrs. SCOTT, PETERSON of Pennsylvania, and TANCREDO
changed their vote from ``nay'' to ``yea.''
So the motion to instruct was agreed to.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
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