Victims' Rights Caucus


Washington, Nov. 1 -

Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentle lady for yielding. And I appreciate the chair and the ranking member for relentlessly pushing this issue to the House floor as fast as it was possible and to the good folks down at the Senate, Senator Boxer and Senator Isakson, who are the initial sponsors of

H.R. 2337 on which we will, here today, vote on in a bipartisan way.

This legislation is bipartisan because it deals with victims of crime, American victims of crime. And victims are not a partisan bunch; they're just victims. And when someone picks out a victim to commit a crime against, partisanship doesn't play any part in it. And it's good to see that partisanship doesn't play any part in this legislation in opposing it, but it's a bipartisan piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, there's a group of Americans; they are really special people. I call them the American ambassadors abroad. They are young people. A lot of them are young females right out of college. It started with a concept that President Kennedy had many years ago, and it's called the Peace Corps, where these American angels abroad leave their homes in the 50 States and they go to remote parts of the world where many of us would have to look up on a globe or an atlas or the Internet to find out exactly where they are. We've never heard of these places. They are in third-world countries, primarily. They go out where many times the first Americans these folks have ever seen in this country are those Peace Corps volunteers that show up, and they show up for the sole purpose to make life better for these people overseas, sometimes in very small villages. They go and they work in very primitive conditions and live very difficultly, trying to do something really important to make the world a better place. And they do. They are remarkable people.

When they go overseas, as they have done for the last 50 years, and all over the world, sometimes crimes are committed against them. Sometimes they are very serious crimes. Sometimes that includes sexual assault, rape. And it occurs for a lot of reasons, but it does occur. Unfortunately, the Peace Corps back home for a long time ignored some of these crimes and some of these victims, and they just weren't treated right when they were trying to cry out, saying, Hey, this happened to me over there; take care of me when I come back home.

But now this legislation that has been very carefully drafted will fix that problem. It will move us to a direction where we are going to take care of these

Peace Corps volunteers because what they do is important. What the Peace Corps does is important. We just want to improve it so that more and more people go and join the Peace Corps, but yet they feel safe in what they do.

These crimes against our Peace Corps volunteers came to light really at the end of last year, the beginning of this year. One reason it came to