“As we mark National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and National Sexual Assault Awareness month, let’s all keep that shared commitment in mind.
“Let’s do what we can do today to reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act and the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, and then we can come back when it’s possible for us to pass the Justice For All Act, the larger piece of legislation, when the Senate is prepared to act.
“As I said, I’d prefer to reauthorize the entire Justice For All Act–and I know there are many of our colleagues who share that sentiment with me–but regardless of whatever minor disagreements members may have, we should immediately–today–reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act and the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program.
“Debbie Smith is among the most inspiring people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. And I sincerely hope my colleagues will keep her in mind and others like her, as we move forward with this legislation.
“Earlier this week, Debbie reminded me that the rape-kit backlog is not just about numbers and DNA samples and scientific testing. It’s about people, it’s about justice, and it’s about recovery. As she so eloquently put it, she said, ‘These aren’t rape-kits that need to be tested. These are lives that need to be given back to their owners. These are fragments of lives that have been torn apart.’
“I hope my colleagues will remember those words, as they contemplate how we should move forward on the House provisions that have been passed as well as the larger Justice For All Act, both of which I support. But by authorizing the Debbie Smith Act and then later, in due course, whenever we can do it, the larger Justice For All Act, members of Congress can continue doing our part to help people like Debbie Smith heal wounds, repair lives, and make our country a safer place.”