A Long-Awaited Victory for Women Across the Country

Senator Patty Murray
2013-03-12 14:42:47
March 12, 2013 A Long-Awaited Victory for Women Across the Country Last week, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act into law. This is a long delayed, hard won, and badly needed victory for millions of women, especially those who were told that they weren’t worthy of VAWA’s protections. It means that finally, after over 16 months of struggle, tribal women, the LGBT community, immigrants, and women on college campuses will have the tools and resources this life-saving bill provides. There is absolutely no reason that it should have taken this long for the House leadership to come around on a bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support. But passage is a validation of what we’ve been saying since this bill expired in 2011 - VAWA has never been, and should never be, a partisan bill. Throughout this process - often through tears - countless women had the courage to come forward and tell painful stories about why this bill was so vital to them. By stepping out of the shadows, they reinforced that they were more than statistics, and they forced those who stood in opposition to this bill to face up to the reality that who a person loves, where they live, or their immigration status should never determine whether they are protected from violence. I want to especially thank Deborah Parker of the Tulalip Tribe, pictured above. Deborah has been by my side time and again in this effort and repeatedly told her deeply personal story of the violence and abuse women face on tribal lands to illustrate a tremendous unmet need. Along with Deborah, I know that advocates across the country are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that we finally got this done. For nearly two decades VAWA has allowed women to escape lives afflicted by violence and abuse. It’s been one of the privileges of my career to stand strong over the past year and a half to ensure that VAWA’s protections are expanded to include more women. WATCH (prezi.com/k5fymx8f_nxn/reauthorizing-the-violence-against-women-act/) an interactive timeline of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. “Bipartisanship saves Violence Against Women Act” blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/2013/03/01/bipartisanship-saves-violence-against-women-act/ – The Seattle Times “Patty Murray celebrates victory on VAWA” livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/patty-murray-celebrates-victory-on-vawa – Talking Points Memo “A proud day for tribal advocates of the Violence Against Women Act” indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/02/28/proud-day-tribal-advocates-violence-against-women-act-147932 - Indian Country
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March 12, 2013

A Long-Awaited Victory for Women Across the Country

 News Releases Murray Honored by NCAI for Work to Protect Tribal Women in VAWA

Last week, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act into law. This is a long delayed, hard won, and badly needed victory for millions of women, especially those who were told that they weren’t worthy of VAWA’s protections. It means that finally, after over 16 months of struggle, tribal women, the LGBT community, immigrants, and women on college campuses will have the tools and resources this life-saving bill provides. There is absolutely no reason that it should have taken this long for the House leadership to come around on a bill that had overwhelming bipartisan support. But passage is a validation of what we’ve been saying since this bill expired in 2011 - VAWA has never been, and should never be, a partisan bill.

Throughout this process - often through tears - countless women had the courage to come forward and tell painful stories about why this bill was so vital to them. By stepping out of the shadows, they reinforced that they were more than statistics, and they forced those who stood in opposition to this bill to face up to the reality that who a person loves, where they live, or their immigration status should never determine whether they are protected from violence.

I want to especially thank Deborah Parker of the Tulalip Tribe, pictured above. Deborah has been by my side time and again in this effort and repeatedly told her deeply personal story of the violence and abuse women face on tribal lands to illustrate a tremendous unmet need. Along with Deborah, I know that advocates across the country are breathing a sigh of relief knowing that we finally got this done. For nearly two decades VAWA has allowed women to escape lives afflicted by violence and abuse. It’s been one of the privileges of my career to stand strong over the past year and a half to ensure that VAWA’s protections are expanded to include more women.

WATCH an interactive timeline of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

“Bipartisanship saves Violence Against Women Act” – The Seattle Times  

“Patty Murray celebrates victory on VAWA” – Talking Points Memo


Addressing our Debt and Deficit: Closing Tax Loopholes

Addressing Our Debt and Deficit: Closing Tax Loopholes

Over the next few weeks, both chambers of Congress will be debating fundamental choices about our country’s direction, and what kind of nation we will leave to our next generation. We will lay out proposals that reflect very different approaches to the many challenges we face. One central question we will be looking at is how can we bring down our debt and deficits, while putting the middle class and broad-based economic growth first.  Last week, I chaired a Budget Committee hearing with policy experts on the impact of tax expenditures on the deficit, and the need to close loopholes and eliminate wasteful and unfair spending in the tax code. 

If the goal of our budget plan is to strengthen the middle class and work towards broad-based economic growth, finding savings from unfair tax provisions is an opportunity to responsibly reduce our deficit, and invest in our future. At a time when we absolutely must cut where we can, looking at ways we can close special tax breaks that aren’t targeted to help the middle class or our economy just makes sense. Especially when, by making these adjustments, we can stop giving an unfair advantage to those who are already doing far better than most Americans, and instead focus on making crucial investments in our future, while cutting our deficit in a fair way.

As the budget process continues, please continue to share your stories about how federal budget decisions have impacted your family, your community, and your job via MyBudget .


The Nomination of Sally Jewell for Secretary of the Interior

President Obama has chosen an accomplished leader as the next Secretary of Interior, Washington’s own Sally Jewell.  I have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Sally, who has proven to be an effective CEO in the business community, and will bring that skill set to the Cabinet.  She understands our public lands are tremendous assets, particularly to the multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation based economy. American families could have no greater advocate for our National Parks and natural treasures, and I look forward to working with Sally and President Obama as they shape and implement policies at the Department of Interior.

“REI chief: outsider pick for Interior secretary” –The Seattle Times

“Sally Jewell to Interior: U.S. overdue for action on public lands” – Seattle PI


Continuing to Push for Answers on Military Mental Health

Last month, the Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced that the Army had completed a review of behavioral health diagnoses going back to 2001. As you may know, I had pushed for the review after hundreds of service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord had their PTSD diagnoses incorrectly reduced, and then, in many cases, restored over the past two years.

While I’m pleased that the Army has completed this study, it’s far more important that they take quick action to remedy the problem. The Pentagon should also follow through on their commitment to extend this review to all branches of the military so servicemembers aren’t slipping through the cracks. I was able to meet with Army officials last week and stressed that we cannot ever have a repeat of what happened at JBLM. We cannot allow those who have served or their loved ones to be dragged through a system that leaves them with more questions than answers. We must provide a uniform approach to dealing with the lasting mental wounds of war if we are going to help stem the tide of military suicide and ensure that we are easing the transition home for those who serve.  While this is an important first step, there is a lot more work to be done.

“New Army report finds trouble with behavioral health system”
- Northwest Public Radio


Helping Wounded Veterans Start Families

I was so pleased that legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives last week that would end the ban on in vitro fertilization services at the VA and provide access to fertility treatment, adoption services, and other care in order to help severely wounded veterans start families.  I introduced a similar bill last Congress, which passed the Senate unanimously only to be stalled in the House.  I hope this introduction means the House is now willing to act quickly to help our most seriously wounded veterans, and their spouses.  We should not make these veterans, who have sacrificed so much, wait any longer to be able to realize their dreams of starting or expanding their families.   

Read more.

“New push for veterans’ fertility treatments”
– The Marine Corps Times


Fairness for Same-Sex Veterans and Their Spouses

Last week, I was proud to lead a letter to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki calling for an expedited waiver process granting same-sex veterans and their spouses burial rights in national cemeteries. Currently, only members of the opposite-sex are buried next to their veteran spouse in national cemeteries.

For the LGBT members of our nation’s armed forces, and for those of us who support them, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was only the first step on the road towards equality. Our country now must work to ensure each of our heroes receives the same quality care and services once they leave the military – including a dignified burial for them, and their spouses. I was glad to see Secretary Shinseki honor the request of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell on behalf of her wife Nancy and am hopeful he will not only seriously consider similar requests in the future, but implement an expedited process so no veteran will have to face uncertainty when mourning the loss of their spouse.

Read more and view the full text of the letter.

“Senators urge VA secretary to speed waiver process for same-sex burials in
national cemeteries”
-  The Oregonian


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Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

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