Senate Passes VAWA reauthorization: Debate Moves to House >>

April 27th, 2012

Senate Passes VAWA reauthorization: Debate Moves to House

On April 25, 2012, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization, by a vote of 68 – 31. The Hutchison – Grassley substitute amendment that would have stripped the tribal jurisdictional provisions failed by a vote of 36 – 63. Among many positive provisions for tribal governments, the bill includes a provision to restore tribal court criminal authority over reservation-based acts of domestic violence committed by non-Indians. If the legislation reaches the President’s desk, this would be a historic restoration of tribal sovereignty that was wrongly taken in the Supreme Court’s 1978 Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe decision. The gap in jurisdiction has been the root cause of the epidemic of violence against Native women. S. 1925 will restore tribal authority and provide many tribal governments with local control to combat all crimes of domestic and dating violence on Indian lands.

There will be a big battle ahead in the House of Representatives. The SAVE Native Women Act, which mirrors the senate bill’s tribal provisions, has bipartisan support in that chamber, but Indian country must reach out to each and every member of the House to build a strong coalition of support to retain the tribal provisions.

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