Speech ● Racial Equity & Equal Justice for All
For Immediate Release: 
March 17, 2021
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this morning in support of legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and a resolution to remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Below is a link to the video and his remarks as prepared for delivery.

Click here to watch the video. 
“Madam Speaker, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we do so with an awareness that so much work in the fight for equality remains. That’s what the House is focusing on this week: women’s equality, women’s safety and justice, and women’s opportunity.

“I’m proud that we are taking action to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act within the first three months of the new Congress. I was a cosponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act in 1994. We passed the original VAWA on a bipartisan basis and reauthorized it with bipartisan support in 2000 and again in 2005. Those were overwhelming votes of 371-1 and 415-4, respectively. Then, in 2013, we did it again – with 87 Republicans joining all 199 Democrats in the House vote. Every time we reauthorized the law, we made it stronger – ensuring protections for more women who were victimized by domestic abuse, stalking, and other crimes.

“Last Congress, our House Democratic majority passed a VAWA reauthorization that included these expanded protections, but Senate Republicans blocked it from being enacted. It is essential that Congress take action with a long-term reauthorization of VAWA, made all the more critical by the rise in domestic violence we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and more people having to stay at home. Let’s send a message to the women – and men – of America that Congress will continue to do its part to root out domestic violence and abuse.

“I want to thank Rep. Jackson Lee for her leadership on this issue and for taking the lead, along with Chairman Nadler and the Judiciary Committee, on this reauthorization. I agree with President Biden, the author of the original 1994 Violence Against Women Act, who said that: ‘Strengthening and renewing VAWA is long past due.’ Once we pass it in the House, I hope the Senate will send it quickly to President Biden to sign into law.

“Madam Speaker, the House is also taking action this week to stand up for women’s equality. Last year, Virginia became the thirty-eighth state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. After it did so, the House passed a resolution to affirm that, with Virginia’s action, the Equal Rights Amendment has been duly added to our constitution as the Twenty-Eighth Amendment. However, the Republican-led Senate refused to do the same.

“Now, with a Democratic-led Senate, I am hopeful that Congress can affirm the adoption of that amendment and provide strong legal backing to those seeking to have it recognized by our courts as a full part of our constitution. That amendment states simply: ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.’ It is long overdue that we as a nation affirm this truth: that all men and women are created equal and ought to be treated equally under our laws.

“The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in 2014: ‘I would like to see my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion – that women and men are persons of equal stature – I’d like them to see that this is a basic principle of our society.’ So would I. So would millions of Americans.

“And we can take a major step forward this week to make that happen by passing the bipartisan resolution offered by Reps. Jackie Speier and Tom Reed. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting both H.J. Res. 17 and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. We have a chance this week to send a message that Congress will not tolerate violence or discrimination against women. And we have an opportunity to mark this Women’s History Month by making history in a very positive way, benefiting not only women but our nation as a whole.”