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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton’s Airlines Sexual Assault Bill Gets Top Bipartisan Support

Jul 14, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-DC) bill that requires reporting and data collection on sexual assaults on passenger airlines received broad bipartisan support last week from top members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Representatives Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Norton cosigned a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to consider the issue, as many aspects of the issue bill fall into the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction.

Norton’s bill, H.R. 4295, the “Protecting Airline Passengers from Sexual Assaults Act of 2014,” which directs the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to establish a program to collect and maintain data on the number of sexual assaults that occur on domestic air passenger flights, was introduced in March.  Crawford’s bill, H.R. 4404, the “Sexual Assault Reporting on Aircraft Act of 2014,” which directs the Attorney General to acquire data, for each calendar year, about sexual offenses, including rape, that occur aboard passenger aircraft, was introduced in April. In bipartisan collaboration, Norton agreed to move forward with Crawford’s bill, which embodies the same vision as Norton’s original bill because the Justice Department and the FBI collect most of the crime statistics to which his bill is addressed. 

“I introduced my bill after learning about a surge in sexual assaults aboard airplanes. It is impossible for us to deal with sexual assaults on passenger aircraft because there are zero reporting requirements, and therefore zero data for us to eliminate sexual assault during air travel,” Norton said.  “It is always great to see bipartisan support from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, especially on this issue.  I strongly urge my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to take up this bipartisan issue with haste, much like we did.”

 

The full letter follows:

 

Chairman Bob Goodlatte                                                  The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.

Chairman                                                                           Ranking Member

Committee on the Judiciary                                              Committee on the Judiciary

U.S. House of Representatives                                         U.S. House of Representatives

2138 Rayburn House Office Building                              B-351 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC  20515                                                   Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers:

We write to you regarding recent media reports about sexual assaults that have taken place during commercial airline flights.  The issue was discussed at the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s April 9, 2014 markup of H.R. 4156.  Two Members of the Committee have introduced legislation to address this issue.  In March 2014, Delegate Eleanor Homes Norton (D-DC) introduced H.R. 4295, the “Protecting Airline Passengers from Sexual Assaults Act of 2014”, which directs the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to establish a program to collect and maintain data on the number of sexual assaults that occur on domestic air passenger flights.  In April, Representative Eric A. Crawford (R-AR) introduced H.R. 4404, the “Sexual Assault Reporting on Aircraft Act of 2014”, which directs the Attorney General to acquire data, for each calendar year, about sexual offenses, including rape, that occur aboard passenger aircraft.

            We believe that sexual assault is a serious crime, and therefore data collected regarding sexual assaults on passenger aircraft is best collected by the Department of Justice, as opposed to the Department of Transportation.  Given that the Department of Justice is not within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we request that the Committee on the Judiciary provide prompt review and consideration of H.R. 4404, the “Sexual Assault Reporting on Aircraft Act of 2014”.

            If you have any questions regarding or concerns regarding this request, please contact Matt Sturges at (202) 225-9446 and Rachel Carr at (202) 225-4472.

Thank you for your consideration.  

 

Sincerely,    

 

 

 

BILL SHUSTER                                                        NICK J. RAHALL, II

Chairman                                                                     Ranking Member

 

 

 

ERIC A. “RICK” CRAWFORD                               ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress