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Senate Floor: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

  • Barbara Boxer
    Person
  • Joe Biden
    Person
  • Not Labeled
    Person
Unknown

Barbara Boxer

Very Positive
Mr. President, I thank the Chair, and I thank the distinguished chairman for giving me this time. I know we are making good progress on the bill before us, but I felt it important to take the floor for a brief time to talk about a very important issue. 5

Barbara Boxer

Very Negative
Mr. President, throughout American history, women have changed the course of debate in this country. Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, and the Nation's attention was focused to the issue of racial injustice. Anita Hill stepped forward to testify before Congress, and the Nation focused on sexual harassment in the workplace. And now, Mr. President, a terrible event in California, the death of a young mother, brings a tragic issue to the forefront: The brutality and the terror of spousal abuse. 6

Barbara Boxer

Negative
We should not jump to conclusions about who was responsible for Nicole Simpson's murder. But we do know from the Los Angeles Police Department that she was repeatedly beaten by her former husband, once so badly that she had to be hospitalized. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, she was bruised and bloodied and slapped so hard, Mr. President, that a hand print was left on her neck. 7

Barbara Boxer

Very Negative
What we do know is that the criminal justice system is guilty because it routinely turns its back on this form of brutality and leaves too many women out in the cold. 8

Barbara Boxer

Very Negative
Mr. President, beating is beating. Blood spilled is blood spilled. Whether it occurs at the hands of a stranger or a family member, there should be no difference in the way it is viewed. It is time for action to prevent violence in the home. The excuse that "This is just a family matter" is no longer acceptable. "I love her so much that I lost myself" are words that must be seen as a cry for help from both spouses in the relationship. 9

Barbara Boxer

Negative
Today, I join President Clinton and several of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in calling for immediate action on the crime bill, which appears to be stalled in the conference. 10

Barbara Boxer

Negative
Passage of this bill is now more important than ever, Mr. President, not only because of its many provisions to make our streets and our schools safer, but also because it includes the only comprehensive piece of legislation to pass the House and Senate on the issue of violence against women. 11

Barbara Boxer

Slightly Negative
Four years ago, Senator Joe Biden, the distinguished chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Violence Against Women Act. I was extremely pleased that he asked me to author the House version at that time, which I did, and I did it every year that I was in the House of Representatives. We have pushed and pushed to make this bill law ever since. 12

Barbara Boxer

Very Negative
The Violence Against Women Act provides police, prosecutor, and judicial training on dealing with spousal abuse. It funds services to victims, such as shelters for battered women and children. 13

Barbara Boxer

Unknown
By the way, Mr. President, we have more shelters in this country for animals than we do for women and children. We need action now. We need prevention programs now. 14

Barbara Boxer

Leans Positive
Two years ago, we were successful in enacting a few provisions into law. As part of the Higher Education Act, we secured funding for rape prevention programs on college campuses. When Congress reauthorized the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the only Federal program that provides funding to battered women shelters, we secured more funding for these services, as well as public education campaigns. 15

Barbara Boxer

Very Negative
But we are still struggling, Mr. President, to enact the majority of this bill. I am proud to see on the floor the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden, who has led this fight before anyone knew what the problem was. Well, maybe our colleagues did not feel the sense of urgency then when we began, but it is critical that we act now. We cannot let another year go by. We cannot let another day go by. The Violence Against Women Act must be passed as part of the crime bill. I especially urge my colleagues on the conference to follow Senator Biden's lead and vote for the authorization level of $1.8 billion. 16

Barbara Boxer

Very Negative
That is crucial in our efforts. I said we could not wait another day. Let me correct myself, Mr. President. We cannot wait another minute because every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in America. An estimated 2 to 4 million women are battered by their spouses or partners every year. As many as one-fifth to one-third of all women who visit emergency rooms are victims of spousal abuse. In 1992, approximately 30 percent of all women murdered -- nearly 1,400 wives and girlfriends -- were slain by their husbands or boyfriends. Let me repeat that, Mr. President -- 1,400 wives and girlfriends were slain by their husbands or boyfriends. 17

Barbara Boxer

Very Positive
To all Americans who care about this issue, who want to act now to save the lives of innocent people, please help Senator Biden push this crime bill through. Look. We have partisan differences around here. We fight about a lot of things. But this President is right when he says let us move swiftly and in a bipartisan fashion on this crime bill. Every 15 seconds a woman is battered. Mr. President, let us act now. 18

Barbara Boxer

Unknown
We saw what happened in California. But it happens every 15 seconds. 19

Barbara Boxer

Leans Positive
I see my distinguished colleague here. If I have any time remaining, I yield it to him, and if I do not, I ask unanimous consent that he be granted 3 or 4 minutes to comment at this time. 20

Unknown
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California has just under 4 minutes remaining. 22

Barbara Boxer

Very Positive
Then I yield the remainder of my time to my friend and colleague and a great leader on this -- he deserves all our thanks -- Senator Biden. 24

Unknown
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware. 26

Joe Biden

Very Positive
Mr. President, I thank the Senator from California for her generous remarks. 28

Joe Biden

Very Positive
The truth of the matter is, although 5 years ago I wrote this bill -- this bill, I might add, did not move until my friend from California came to the U.S. Senate. She was the original sponsor in the House on this legislation. But when she came to the U.S. Senate, all of a sudden I found that my exhortations to my colleagues took on a new dimension. When I stood up and cited the statistics that my friend from California cites, people listened, and we got it passed. But there was not much sense of urgency. But when the distinguished Senator from California came and made the case with the passion and urgency that she does, literally things begin to move. 29

Joe Biden

Very Positive
I am pleased to tell Senator Boxer and my colleagues that in the crime conference so far, the chairman of the conference, Mr. Brooks, and the President of the United States, through the Attorney General, have agreed to the language that Senator Boxer and I originally introduced 4 years ago, which is that it has all the provisions and full funding. 30

Joe Biden

Unknown
Now we have not had a vote in the full conference on that yet, but I fully expect that it will survive. 31

Joe Biden

Very Negative
Let me point out that the most important thing it seems to me about the passage of the violence against women's legislation which in a sense has been submerged in the larger crime bill, if this bill all by itself were being debated, it would be one of the major pieces of legislation we would be acting on as a Congress. But because we were able to include it in the overall crime bill at the last minute, in effect, increasing its prospects of passage, it has somehow been lost sight of. 32

Joe Biden

Very Negative
The reason why it is important that it not be lost sight of is because not that it will affect substantively what actually it allocates to the States, actually allocated to fight violence against women, but because the public at large is unaware of what we are doing. 33

Joe Biden

Slightly Negative
One of the most important things about the violence against women legislation in my view and the reason why I wrote the legislation in the first instance is it is designed not only to substantively change the law but to indirectly change attitudes in America. 34

Joe Biden

Very Negative
To use a trite Washington expression, the bottom line of the violence against women legislation is that no man under any circumstance, for any reason other than self-defense, has a right to touch a woman without her permission, period. No ifs, ands, or buts. This is about power, physical power, and violence against women and particularly domestic violence, which is a misnomer. There is nothing domestic about it. That makes it sound like domestic cats as opposed to wild cats. The truth is we should drop that phrase. 35

Joe Biden

Very Negative
It is violence, pure and simple, and one of the things we have to do is change attitudes. 36

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
Let me just suggest to you one of the States in the Nation in 1987 surveyed all of their seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students and asked the following question, and I am paraphrasing: If a man spends $10 on a woman on a date and then demands to have sex with her and she refuses, is he entitled to use force? 37

Joe Biden

Very Positive
Somewhere around 34 percent of the young men in this State said yes, and an astounding 24 percent of the young women said yes. 38

Joe Biden

Slightly Negative
We must change attitudes about what a man can do. We have to drop phrases like "my woman." The idea that any man has a right to touch a woman, whether she is a saint or a prostitute, is not relevant. No man has a right to lay a hand on a woman in anger without her permission -- and that is an oxymoron. If she is angry, she is not going to be giving permission. That is the attitude we have to change. 39

Joe Biden

Negative
My hope is when we pass this legislation, it will not only substantively make things safer for women, increasing everything from battered women shelters, to lighting, to education of prosecutors and judges, but it also will give women, in addition to the criminal cause of action, for the first time in our history, a civil cause of action. 40

Joe Biden

Very Negative
So not only will the man go to jail if the woman can prove she was a victim of violence because of her sex, she can take his car, his house, his savings account. She can be empowered not to have to wait for the State to decide whether to proceed. She can proceed. And until women are empowered that way, things will not change. 41

Unknown
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired. 43

Barbara Boxer

Somewhat Positive
I thank the Senator. 45

Joe Biden

Somewhat Positive
I thank the Chair. 47