I want to welcome everyone to our hearing on the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. I supported the enactment of the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994 and have voted to reauthorize the grant programs authorized by VAWA multiple times. When I wasn’t able to support a Democrat-led effort to reauthorize, I introduced my own proposal that would have protected and enhanced the program. This year, I again led my colleagues in sending a letter to Senate appropriations leaders, urging that Congress continue to prioritize funding of VAWA programs. In previous years, when I sent similar letters to the appropriators, Senators Shelby and Leahy were incredibly responsive to my requests and supportive of these programs, so I want to thank them for working with me to champion their funding.
As a member of this Committee, I’ve made it a top priority to champion related measures to expand rights and services for victims of intimate partner violence. This year, for example, I joined a number of committee members in cosponsoring legislation to ensure that the Crime Victims Fund will receive an additional $1 billion in deposits each and every year. Services to victims and survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and child abuse are accorded priority in funding, under the Victims of Crime Act, which created this important fund. In 2016 and again this year, I also worked closely with a young sexual assault survivor, Amanda Nguyen, and the organization she founded on bills to enhance the rights of sexual violence survivors in the criminal justice system.
In early 2018, I led this Committee’s efforts to press the FBI for information on its response to allegations of sexual abuse, lodged by Olympic athletes against their former team doctor. I’ve been seeking justice for the victims of Larry Nassar’s abuse, and I have some timely questions for DOJ, who refused to attend our hearing last month, about accountability for those who failed these victims. As the former chairman of this Committee, I also worked closely with Senator Feinstein on legislation to impose a mandatory reporting requirement on coaches and instructors who witness abuse when working with young athletes.
I also sponsored and led this committee in approving legislation to renew and update the Trafficking Victims Protection Act – as many victims of sex trafficking also are victims of intimate partner violence. I worked with Sen. Cornyn on the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, shepherding it through this Committee and the Senate. And I led our Committee in approving a measure, sponsored by former Senator Hatch, to make more resources available to victims of child pornography.
Renewing and extending the Violence Against Women Act is our next priority, and that’s why we’ve convened today’s hearing. Before we begin, I want to take this opportunity to mention that it’s important that we adopt short term extensions of VAWA, while bipartisan VAWA reauthorization negotiations take place. I also want to recognize several of my Republican colleagues, who are not members of our committee but have joined us on a members’ panel to express their support for VAWA and share their views on the reauthorization. Senators Ernst, Hyde Smith and Capito, I thank you for being here. I’d also like to thank Ms. Monaco for attending today on behalf of the Department of Justice.