OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
- November 12, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 12, 2013
Source: WH, 10-24-13
10:47 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please have a seat, everybody. Good morning, and welcome to the White House. Today I’m here with leaders from business, from labor, from faith communities who are united around one goal — finishing the job of fixing a broken immigration system.
This is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose time has been around for years now. Leaders like all of you have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for years to try to get this done. And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done.
Now, it’s no secret that the American people haven’t seen much out of Washington that they like these days. The shutdown and the threat of the first default in more than 200 years inflicted real pain on our businesses and on families across the country. And it was a completely unnecessary, self-inflicted wound with real costs to real people, and it can never happen again.
Even with the shutdown over, and the threat of default eliminated, Democrats and Republicans still have some really big disagreements — there are some just fundamentally different views about how we should move forward on certain issues. On the other hand, as I said the day after the shutdown ended, that’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to work together on the things that we do agree on.
We should be able to work together on a responsible budget that invests in the things that we need to grow our economy and create jobs even while we maintain fiscal discipline. We should be able to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities grow and protects vulnerable Americans in hard times.
And we should pass immigration reform. (Applause.) We should pass immigration reform. It’s good for our economy. It’s good for our national security. It’s good for our people. And we should do it this year.
Everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken. Across the political spectrum, people understand that. We’ve known it for years. It’s not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from around the world to study here and then not let them start businesses here — we send them back to their home countries to start businesses and create jobs and invent new products someplace else.
It’s not fair to businesses and middle-class families who play by the rules when we allow companies that are trying to undercut the rules work in the shadow economy, to hire folks at lower wages or no benefits, no overtime, so that somehow they get a competitive edge from breaking the rules. That doesn’t make sense.
It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead. It’s not smart. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long.
Now, the good news is, this year the Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority that addressed all of these issues. It’s a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders. It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.
It would modernize our legal immigration system, so that even as we train American workers for the jobs of the future, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders to join with us to create jobs here in the United States.
It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are here illegally — one that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone who is trying to come here the right way.
So it had all the component parts. It didn’t have everything that I wanted; it didn’t have everything that anybody wanted; but it addressed the core challenges of how we create a immigration system that is fair, that’s just, that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And that’s passed the Senate by a bipartisan majority. (Applause.)
So here’s what we also know — that the bill would grow the economy and shrink our deficits. Independent economists have shown that if the Senate bill became law, over the next two decades our economy would grow by $1.4 trillion more than it would if we don’t pass the law. It would reduce our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars.
So this isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. Securing our borders; modernizing our legal immigration system; providing a pathway to earned, legalized citizenship; growing our economy; strengthening our middle class; reducing our deficits — that’s what common-sense immigration reform will do.
Now, obviously, just because something is smart and fair, and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor — (laughter) — and the evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done. (Laughter.) This is Washington, after all.
So everything tends to be viewed through a political prism and everybody has been looking at the politics of this. And I know that there are some folks in this town who are primed to think, “Well, if Obama is for it, then I’m against it.” But I’d remind everybody that my Republican predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago, and I joined with 23 Senate Republicans back then to support that reform. I’d remind you that this reform won more than a dozen Republican votes in the Senate in June.
I’m not running for office again. I just believe this is the right thing to do. (Applause.) I just believe this is the right thing to do. And I also believe that good policy is good politics in this instance. And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this. It’s not something they reject — they support it. Everybody wins here if we work together to get this done. In fact, if there’s a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven’t heard it.
So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why. A clear majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.
Now, how do we move forward? Democratic leaders have introduced a bill in the House that is similar to the bipartisan Senate bill. So now it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not.
I do know — and this is good news — that many of them agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system across these areas that we’ve just discussed. And what I’ve said to them, and I’ll repeat today, is if House Republicans have new and different, additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we want to hear them. I’ll be listening. I know that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, those who voted for immigration reform already, are eager to hear those additional ideas. But what we can’t do is just sweep the problem under the rug one more time, leave it for somebody else to solve sometime in the future.
Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems. This reform comes as close to anything we’ve got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far into the future. So let’s see if we can get this done. And let’s see if we can get it done this year. (Applause.)
We’ve got the time to do it. Republicans in the House, including the Speaker, have said we should act. So let’s not wait. It doesn’t get easier to just put it off. Let’s do it now. Let’s not delay. Let’s get this done, and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.
To those of you who are here today, I want to just say one last thing and that is — thank you. I want to thank you for your persistence. I want to thank you for your activism. I want to thank you for your passion and your heart when it comes to this issue. And I want to tell you, you’ve got to keep it up. Keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done. There are going to be moments — and there are always moments like this in big efforts at reform — where you meet resistance, and the press will declare something dead, it’s not going to happen, but that can be overcome.
And I have to say, Joe, as I look out at this room, these don’t look like people who are easily deterred. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t think so.
THE PRESIDENT: They don’t look like folks who are going to give up. (Applause.) You look fired up to make the next push. And whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, I want you to keep working, and I’m going to be right next to you, to make sure we get immigration reform done. It is time. Let’s go get it done.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
10:59 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 24, 2013
Source: LAT, 8-29-13
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Thursday it had closed a loophole in the gun laws that allowed the acquisition of machine guns and other weapons and had banned U.S….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 29, 2013
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Ever since President Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared together for a joint network interview in January, it seemed like the president had unofficially made the former Secretary of State his heir apparent.
But on Friday, President Obama stood by Vice President Joe Biden in his hometown of Scranton, Pa., heaping praise on the man who has dutifully been at his side since Obama picked him as his running mate five years ago to the day….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 24, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 6-3-13
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
“It’s no mystery that Sen. Lautenberg and I didn’t always agree. In fact, it probably is more honest to say we very often didn’t agree, and we had some pretty good fights between us over time — battles on philosophy and the role of government, but never was Sen. Lautenberg to be underestimated as an advocate for the causes that he believed in and as an adversary in the political world. I think the best way to describe to Frank Lautenberg in the way he would probably want to be described to all of you today is as a fighter.”
President Barack Obama
“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg, a proud New Jerseyan who lived America’s promise as a citizen, and fought to keep that promise alive as a senator. … He improved the lives of countless Americans with his commitment to our nation’s health and safety, from improving our public transportation to protecting citizens from gun violence to ensuring that members of our military and their families get the care they deserve. Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Bonnie, the Lautenberg family, and the people of New Jersey, whom Frank served so well.”
Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
“The entire Senate is saddened today by the loss of our colleague, Senator Frank Lautenberg. The Senate’s last remaining World War II veteran, Frank was a patriot whose success in business and politics made him a great American success story and a stand-out even within the fabled Greatest Generation. Elaine and I send our condolences to Bonnie, the Lautenberg children, and the entire Lautenberg family.”
Newark Mayor Cory Booker
“Senator Lautenberg was a model of leadership and service to me since before I even considered entering elected office. He was a passionate advocate for New Jersey and a crucial and tireless partner who always delivered for the people of Newark. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lautenberg family.”
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham
“It was with great sadness I learned of Senator Lautenberg’s passing. He was a fine man who served his nation honorably in World War II. He was a true gentleman who will be missed by his family, friends, and colleagues in the United States Senate.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
“Today, we mourn the loss of Sen. Lautenberg, the Senate’s last remaining WWII vet whose lifetime of service leaves a legacy we must uphold.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
“I am deeply saddened at the loss of my friend, Frank Lautenberg. History will show him to be one of the most productive Senators ever.”
Arizona Senator John McCain
“RIP Senator Frank Lautenberg, the last WWII veteran to serve in the US Senate. We salute his years of service to his state and nation.”
Vice President Joe Biden
“Everything about Frank is what makes this country great…. He was one of the most productive senators I ever served with…. He could have won, but I think he knew, he knew that his health would not permit it. But he never complained, he never explained. As my dad would say, he just went out and did the job. I’m going to miss him a lot.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 3, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 5-10-13
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Joe Biden sat for a wide-ranging interview published in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine in which the vice president answered questions on a variety of domestic and international issues while speaking candidly about his close relationship with President Obama….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 10, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 5-4-13
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
South Carolina got a taste of two very different political acts Friday night….
“One of the things that bothers me most about the new Republican party is how down on America they are, how down on our prospects they are, how they talk about how we’re getting clobbered, how they talk about things that have no relationship to reality, all in the name of making sure that the very few at the top do very well,” Biden said at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner Friday night….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 4, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 4-5-13
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Vice President Joe Biden is not planning on donating a portion of his salary, eschewing the lead of President Obama and other Cabinet members who are giving up part of their salary as some federal workers face furloughs because of the sequester.
While he is not donating his salary right now, the vice president could forgo a portion of his salary in the future should his staff face furloughs down the road….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 6, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 4-5-13
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Rounding out the week’s Easter celebrations, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hosted faith leaders from across the country at a prayer breakfast in the East Room of the White House Friday morning.
“To all the pastors in the house, I hope you’ve enjoyed some well-deserved rest after a very busy Holy Week. I see some chuckles, so maybe not,” the president told the crowd of approximately 135 people. “Here at the White House, I’m pleased to say that we survived yet another Easter Egg Roll.”…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 5, 2013
Source: WH, 4-5-13
9:28 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all for being here today. And welcome to the White House, and a belated happy Easter — this time of the year when we celebrate renewal and we reflect on the faith that brings us together.
For me, the essence of my faith is tolerance: not being judgmental about people of different faiths. When I was in Rome a few weeks ago, Pope Francis spoke movingly in his homily about our commitments to each other, not just as people of faith, but, he went on to say, but as human beings.
I grew up in a tradition of Catholic social doctrine, and I was incredibly impressed by His Holiness’s homily, his sense of social justice. But I believe his message reads something essential about all faiths, and that is ultimately we all believe that we have a responsibility to one another and we all are our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers.
When it comes down to it, we all know that we’re connected by much more than divides us, although the focus is always on what divides us. As we move forward as a nation, I do believe we’re going to be judged on how we answer that call — that call of moral responsibility, to whether we stand up for those who have the least among us, whether we act on their behalf.
And one of the things that I think at least the President and I believe has been the essence of this administration is the most animating principle of the administration has been just that: to look out for the least among us. Those are the values that I know that the President — and I personally know — the President holds extremely close to his heart.
So I’d like to introduce to you now, my friend, and our President, President Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you.
Well, good morning, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome, once again, to the White House. It is always wonderful to see so many friends from all across the country. I want to thank you for joining us today. I want to thank everybody for their prayers, but, most importantly, I want to thank everybody for their good works through your ministries. It’s making a difference in communities all across this nation, and we could not be more proud to often have a chance to work with you.
To all the pastors in the house, I hope you’ve enjoyed some well-deserved rest after a very busy Holy Week. I see some chuckles, so maybe not. (Laughter.) Here at the White House, I’m pleased to say that we survived yet another Easter Egg Roll. (Laughter.)
Now, if you’ve been to this breakfast before, you know that I always try to avoid preaching in front of people who do it for a living. That’s sound advice. So this morning, I’m just going to leave the sermon to others and offer maybe a few remarks as we mark this — the end of this Easter season.
In these sacred days, those of us as Christians remember the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for each of us –- how, in all His humility and His grace, He took on the sins of the world and extended the gift of salvation. And we recommit ourselves to following His example –- to loving the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our souls and with all our minds, and to loving our neighbors as ourselves.
That’s the eternal spirit of Easter. And this year, I had — I think was particularly special for me because right before Easter I had a chance to feel that spirit during my trip to the Holy Land. And I think so many of you here know there are few experiences more powerful or more humbling than visiting that sacred earth.
It brings Scripture to life. It brings us closer to Christ. It reminds us that our Savior, who suffered and died was resurrected, both fully God and also a man; a human being who lived, and walked, and felt joy and sorrow just like us.
And so for Christians to walk where He walked and see what He saw are blessed moments. And while I had been to Jerusalem before, where Jesus healed the sick, and cured the blind, and embraced the least of these, I also had a chance to go to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. And those of you who have been there know that entering the church is a remarkable experience, although it is a useful instruction to see how managing different sections of the church and different clergy — it feels familiar. (Laughter.) Let’s just put it that way. (Laughter.)
And as I approached the Altar of the Nativity, as I neared the 14-pointed Silver Star that marks the spot where Christ was born, the Patriarch of Jerusalem welcomed me to, in his words, “the place where heaven and Earth met.”
And there, I had a chance to pray and reflect on Christ’s birth, and His life, His sacrifice, His Resurrection. I thought about all the faithful pilgrims who for two thousand years have done the same thing — giving thanks for the fact that, as the book of Romans tells us, “just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
I thought of the poor and the sick who seek comfort, and the marginalized and the forsaken who seek solace, and the grateful who merely seek to offer thanks for the simple blessings of this life and the awesome glory of the next. I thought of all who would travel to this place for centuries to come and the lives they might know.
And I was reminded that while our time on Earth is fleeting, He is eternal. His life, His lessons live on in our hearts and, most importantly, in our actions. When we tend to the sick, when we console those in pain, when we sacrifice for those in need, wherever and whenever we are there to give comfort and to guide and to love, then Christ is with us.
So this morning, let us pray that we’re worthy of His many blessings, that this nation is worthy of His many blessings. Let us promise to keep in our hearts, in our souls, in our minds, on this day and on every day, the life and lessons of Christ, our Lord.
And with that, I’d like to ask Father Larry Snyder to deliver our opening prayer.
9:36 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 5, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 4-2-13
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Hillary Clinton stepped out of the shadows Tuesday night at an award ceremony held to recognize leaders from around the world who worked to improve the plight of women and featuring such guests as Nicholas Kristof and Vice President Joe Biden.
At the event, Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Awards, the former secretary of state made her second public appearance since she left her post earlier this year….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 2, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 3-28-13
Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images
When asked how his March Madness bracket is doing, President Obama on Wednesday responded with one word: “busted.”
Eleven of the president’s picks are among the Sweet 16 and his Final Four are still in the men’s NCAA tournament, but his teams in the Western division did not do as well….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 28, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 3-15-13
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Friday is the second day of the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference — an annual gathering in Washington, D.C., where members of the GOP meet to cement their ideology and try out potential presidential nominees for the coming years.
In his speech at CPAC, the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre mocked Vice President Joe Biden for his advice that women should fire a shotgun two times in the air if they are faced by an attacker and accused the vice president and the White House of having “lost their minds.”…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 15, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 3-7-13
Alex Wong/Getty Images
President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act Thursday, expanding protections for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
“This is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love. That’s got to be our priority. That’s what today is about,” he said at a bill signing ceremony at the Interior Department….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 7, 2013
Source: WH, 3-7-13
2:16 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Diane. Thank you. (Applause.)
Some of you in the audience who are survivors know how much courage it takes to do what Diane did. (Applause.) Some people who don’t know will say, well, she’s just recounting what happened. But every single time you stand and recount what happened, it brings it all back. It brings it all back like a very bad nightmare. But your speaking out, Diane, and so many survivors like you are literally saving the lives of so many other women who, God willing, will be able to avoid the abuse that you had to put up with.
I want to thank all the advocates who are here today. I got a chance to meet in my office with some of you a little bit earlier — not only those on the stage who I, again, had a chance to meet with, but the many women out in the audience, as I look out and see some familiar faces like Pat Rouse and Ellie Smeal and Paulette Sullivan Moore from — I’m being parochial — Paulette Sullivan Moore from my home state, and so many others. (Applause.)
Those of you who have been around a while with me know that I quote my father all the time who literally would say, the greatest sin that could be committed, the cardinal sin of all sins was the abuse of power, and the ultimate abuse of power is for someone physically stronger and bigger to raise their hand and strike and beat someone else. In most cases that tends to be a man striking a woman, or a man or woman striking a child. That’s the fundamental premise and the overarching reason why John Conyers and I and others started so many years ago to draft the legislation called the Violence Against Women Act.
It passed 19 years ago, and that’s why we shortly thereafter instituted a hotline where women in distress could call for help. I remember, John, when we did that hotline, it was like, well, it will be useful, but I’m not so sure how much it will be used. Well, the truth of the matter is it’s been used a lot and it’s saved a lot of lives. Over 2 million women have had the courage — the courage — to try to get out of earshot of their abuser, escape from the prison of their own home, and pick up that phone and call to a line that you had no idea who on the other end was going to answer, and to say, I’m in trouble. Can you help me? Can you help me?
I love those men who would say when we started this about why don’t they just leave. Well, if they had one-third the courage that those women — those 2 million women had who have picked up the phone and called, not knowing what to expect, it would be a whole lot better nation.
We’ve built a network of shelters that are immediately available to women in need because we found out that the vast majority of children who are homeless on the street — Nancy knows and others — were there because their mothers were abused. Imagine fleeing for your life with only the clothes on your back and your child in your arms. The shelter was their only lifeline, and it’s worked.
We also have specialized law enforcement units with trained prosecutors, victim advocates, court personnel who understand the unique challenges of the access. Because of all of you in the audience that are here today, we’ve been able to train judges and train intake officers, so when a frightened woman shows up at the family court and says to the intake officer, “I want to tell you” — “Speak up, will you?” “Well, I just — my” — and they turn around and walk away, because there’s only a very brief window, as all of you know, a very brief window, again, after a woman screws up the courage — the courage — to ask for help.
All these links in the chain have made a difference in the lives of women. It’s one woman, one girl, one person at a time, one case at a time. And you providers know that better than anyone.
With all the law’s success, there are still too many women in this country who live in fear of violence, who are still prisoners in their own home; too many victims that we have to mourn. We knew from the outset in 1994 that there was much more we could have done at the beginning if we were able to get the votes. But we did what was necessary and important, but we knew more had to be done to reduce domestic violence, domestic violence homicides, to provide new tools, as was just spoken to, to protect Native American women, to address the perplexing rate of dating violence among young women, and so much more.
But because of the people on this stage and in this room, every time we reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, we improved it. Every single time, we’ve improved it. (Applause.)
And we did this again. First, we’ve given jurisdiction to tribal courts over those who abuse women on reservations regardless of whether or not they — (applause.) We’re providing more resources to the states so they can be trained as to how to collect evidence, acquire convictions, particularly in prosecutions for rape. We’re going to increase the use of proven models to reduce domestic violence homicides.
We’ve all focused on the tragic gun violence that has been in the news lately, but I want to point something out to you. From 2009 to 2012, 40 percent of the mass shootings in America, other than the celebrated ones you’ve seen — 40 percent where there’s four or more people who have been shot, the target has been a former intimate partner or a close family member.
So they go into the office, just like that young man who — or woman who stood in front of you when your husband came with a loaded pistol to shoot you. Forty percent are a consequence of domestic violence.
We created a strong — strong — anti-violence program. Campuses will have more tools to educate students about sexual violence. (Applause.)
So when Congress passed this law that the President will sign today, they just didn’t renew what I consider a sacred commitment to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters. They strengthened that commitment. And I want to thank them. I hope I don’t leave anybody out. Starting off with my old buddy, Pat Leahy, who chairs the committee. Pat, thank you very, very much. (Applause.) And Mike Crapo. Mike, this wouldn’t have happened if you had not stepped up. (Applause.) Lisa Murkowski is not here. But my friend who — I don’t want to get her in trouble, but I know she really likes me because I like her a lot — (laughter) — Senator Collins. Seriously, it was Republicans coming and standing up and saying this has to be done in the Senate. So we owe you. We owe you big. (Applause.)
And by the way, if you ever want a partner to get anything important done, call Nancy Pelosi. Call Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) And Steny Hoyer, and Congresswoman Moore — (applause — and my old buddy — I hope I’m not leaving anybody out here — but my old buddy, John Conyers. (Applause.) I’m sure I’m leaving someone out, for which I apologize.
Look, we all know we have a lot more to do, but we’re going to continue to make progress. And one of the reasons we’re going to continue to make progress is we’re going to have for at least three more years the President of the United States, my friend, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody! Please, everybody have a seat, have a seat.
I want to thank all of you for being here. I want to thank Secretary Salazar, my great friend, for letting us into the building. (Laughter.) Make sure, everybody, pick up their stray soda cans and stuff afterwards. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Attorney General Holder for joining us. He’s doing a great job. (Applause.)
We usually host these bill signings over at the White House. But there were just too many of you — (laughter) — who helped to make this happen. (Applause.) And you all deserve to be a part of this moment. I want to thank everybody on this stage. Joe just mentioned the extraordinary work that each and every one of these leaders — both advocates as well as legislators –
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I left out Congressman Tom Cole.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there you go. Give Tom a big round of applause. (Applause.)
But everybody on this stage worked extraordinarily hard. Most of all, though, this is your day. This is the day of the advocates; the day of the survivors. This is your victory.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mr. President!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)
And this victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens. (Applause.) So I want to join Joe in thanking all the members of Congress from both parties who came together, got this bill across the finish line.
I want to say a special thanks to Pat Leahy and Mike Crapo. (Applause.) Thank you, guys, for your leadership. (Applause.) And I want to give much love to Gwen Moore, who worked so hard on this. (Applause.)
And I also want to take a minute before I begin to thank the Senators who, just a few hours ago, took another big step towards sensible gun safety reforms by advancing a federal gun trafficking bill. That’s real progress. (Applause.) Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent legislation to the Senate floor that would crack down on folks who buy guns only to turn around and funnel them to dangerous criminals.
It’s a bill named, in part, for Hadiya Pendleton, who was murdered in Chicago earlier this year. You’ll remember I told this story about how she had marched in the Inauguration Parade, and just a few weeks later had been gunned down about a mile away from my house.
So I urge the Senate to give that bill a vote. I urge the House to follow suit. And I urge Congress to move on other areas that have support of the American people — from requiring universal background checks to getting assault weapons off our streets — because we need to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, and because Hadiya’s family and too many other families really do deserve a vote. (Applause.)
Finally, I want to thank Joe Biden for being such an outstanding Vice President. (Applause.) That’s right, you can stand for Joe. Stand for Joe. (Applause.) Give it up for Joe Biden. (Applause.) Joe is a hardworking Vice President.
AUDIENCE: Yes, he is!
THE PRESIDENT: And he told me when he agreed — when I asked him to be Vice President, he said, well, I don’t want to just be sitting around. (Laughter.) I said, I promise you I won’t let you just sit around. (Laughter.) And he has not. He has played a key role in forging the gun safety reforms that I talked about, largely by working closely with survivors of gun violence and their families. He forged the Violence Against Women Act 20 years ago — never forgetting who it was all about. (Applause.)
So on behalf of everybody here and all the lives that you’ve had a positive impact and touched through the Violence Against Women Act — the survivors who are alive today because of this law, the women who are no longer hiding in fear because of this law, the girls who are growing up aware of their right to be free from abuse because of this law — (applause) — on behalf of them and all their families, I want to thank Joe Biden for making this one of the causes of his career. (Applause.)
Now, as Joe said earlier, we’ve come a long way. Back when Joe wrote this law, domestic abuse was too often seen as a private matter, best hidden behind closed doors. Victims too often stayed silent or felt that they had to live in shame, that somehow they had done something wrong. Even when they went to the hospital or the police station, too often they were sent back home without any real intervention or support. They felt trapped, isolated. And as a result, domestic violence too often ended in greater tragedy.
So one of the great legacies of this law is that it didn’t just change the rules; it changed our culture. It empowered people to start speaking out. It made it okay for us, as a society, to talk about domestic abuse. It made it possible for us, as a country, to address the problem in a real and meaningful way. And it made clear to victims that they were not alone — that they always had a place to go and they always had people on their side.
And today, because members of both parties worked together, we’re able to renew that commitment. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is something I called for in my State of the Union address. And when I see how quick it got done, I’m feeling — (applause) — makes me feel optimistic. (Applause.)
Because of this bill, we’ll keep in place all the protections and services that Joe described, and, as he said, we’ll expand them to cover even more women. Because this is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love. (Applause.) That’s got to be our priority. That’s what today is about. (Applause.)
Today is about the millions of women — the victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault — who are out there right now looking for a lifeline, looking for support. Because of this bill, they’ll continue to have access to all the services that Joe first helped establish 19 years ago: the national hotline, network of shelters, protection orders that carry across state lines. And because of this bill, we’re also expanding housing assistance so that no woman has to choose between a violent home and no home at all. That’s what today is all about. (Applause.)
Today is about all the law enforcement officials — like Police Chief Jim Johnson — (applause) — they’re the first to respond when a victim calls for help. And because of this bill, we’re continuing all the training and support that’s proven so effective in bridging some gaps that were in actual enforcement of the law so that we can actually bring more offenders to justice. And we’re giving our law enforcement better tools to investigate cases of rape, which remains a consistently underreported crime in our country. Helping police officers deliver on the most important part of their job — preventing harm and saving lives – that’s what today is all about.
Today is about women like Diane. I’m so grateful Diane shared her story. That takes great courage. (Applause.) And tragically, it is a common story.
I know we’ve got tribal leaders here today, and I want to thank all of you for fighting so hard on behalf of your people — (applause) — to make this bill a reality. (Applause.)
Indian Country has some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in America. And one of the reasons is that when Native American women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts. Well, as soon as I sign this bill that ends. (Applause.) That ends. That ends. (Applause.)
Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear. And that is what today is all about. (Applause.)
Today is about all the Americans who face discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity when they seek help. (Applause.)
So I want to thank Sharon Stapel, who’s here — where did she go? There she is right there — (applause) — for the work she’s doing — the great work she’s doing with the Anti-Violence Project. But Sharon and all the other advocates who are focused on this community, they can’t do it alone. And then now they won’t have to. That’s what today is all about. That’s what today is all about. (Applause.)
Today is about the women who come to Rosie Hidalgo looking for support — (applause) — immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse. I mean, imagine the dilemma for so many — if your immigration status is tied to a husband who beats you or abuses you, if you’re an undocumented immigrant, you may feel there’s too much to lose by coming forward. The Violence Against Women Act already had protections so that victims could call the police without fear of deportation, and those protections saved lives. And because we fought hard to keep them in place, they remain a lifeline for so many women. That’s part of what today is all about. (Applause.)
Today is about young women like Tye, who was brought into the sex trade by a neighbor when she was 12 years old. Tye was rescued with the help of an organization led by trafficking survivors. Today, she’s enrolled in college. She’s working full-time to help at-risk girls stay out of the sex trade. (Applause.) Couldn’t be prouder of her. So proud of her. (Applause.) So with this bill, we reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to help more girls turn out like Tye. That’s what today is all about. (Applause.)
So today is about all the survivors, all the advocates who are standing on this stage. But it’s also about the millions more they represent — that you represent. It’s about our commitment as a country to address this problem — in every corner of America, every community, every town, every big city — as long as it takes.
And we’ve made incredible progress since 1994. But we cannot let up — not when domestic violence still kills three women a day. Not when one in five women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime. Not when one in three women is abused by a partner.
So I promise you — not just as your President, but as a son, and a husband, and a father — I’m going to keep at this. I know Vice President Biden is going to keep at it. My administration is going to keep at it for as long as it takes.
And I know that all the advocates up here, all the legislators — Republican and Democrat — who supported this, I know they could not be prouder of the work that they’ve done together. And I think I speak for all of them when we say we could not have done it without you.
So with that, let me sign this bill. (Applause.)
(The bill is signed.)
2:40 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 7, 2013