Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
On February 9th, a bipartisan group of senators, including Dick Durbin (D-IL), Joni Ernest (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), introduced a bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill containing many long-sought Tribal provisions, including:
- Reaffirmation of Tribal criminal jurisdiction in crimes against children and law enforcement, as well as sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking;
- Clarification that all Tribal Nations in Maine can exercise Special Tribal criminal jurisdiction under VAWA;
- An increase in resources for Tribal Nations to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction and the establishment of a reimbursement program to cover Tribal costs;
- A requirement that non-Indian defendants exhaust all Tribal court remedies before appealing to federal court;
- Reauthorization of funding for and amending the Tribal Access Program, to ensure that all Tribal Nations can access national crime information systems for criminal justice and non-criminal justice purposes; and
- Permanency for the 2010 Bureau of Prisons Tribal Prisoner Program and allowing Tribal Nations to place offenders in federal facilities that are sentenced to one year or more.
As we previously alerted, the bill's Tribal title is the product of a discussion draft circulated in December 2021 by Sens. Murkowski and Schatz. USET SPF submitted testimony for the record of SCIA's December 8th hearing on VAWA Title IX in which we expressed support for the discussion draft, while noting that many of our other member Tribal Nations are subject to restrictive settlement acts that states may use to challenge the full application of VAWA and other laws.
It has been nearly 10 years since VAWA's last reauthorization, though a reauthorization of VAWA has already passed the House. USET SPF supports the Senate bill and continues to call for for its immediate passage, as it would ensure that the United States fulfills more of its trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations by better recognizing our inherent sovereignty. USET SPF will continue to monitor the progress of a reauthorization in the Senate and will provide updates as they develop.
For more information, please contact Liz Malerba, USET SPF Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at email@example.com.