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117th Congress Legislative Update: December 2021 

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Oversight Hearing held on Tribal title in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

On December 8, the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing, "Restoring Justice: Addressing Violence in Native Communities through VAWA Title IX Special Jurisdiction.” 

On December 16, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released a joint statement and spoke on the senate floor about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The senators plan to introduce a bipartisan bill next month, which, among other things, would expand special Tribal criminal jurisdiction to include non-Native perpetrators of stalking, sex trafficking, sexual violence, crimes against children, obstruction of justice, and assault against Tribal law enforcement officers. The bill also creates a pilot program for Alaska, which will enable a limited number of Tribes in the state to exercise special Tribal criminal jurisdiction.

In March, the House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 1620). The bill, which expired in 2018, was reintroduced by Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). This bill would build on the progress of the 2013 VAWA reauthorization by reaffirming the inherent sovereign authority of Tribal Nations to hold non-Indian perpetrators accountable in cases involving child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault, stalking, sex trafficking and assault on Tribal law enforcement officers. H.R. 1620, which was developed in partnership with national and Tribal advocacy organizations, also includes critical resources for tribes to implement VAWA.

Tell your Senators to reauthorize VAWA with life-saving Tribal provisions, which would restore Tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of sexual assault, child and elder abuse, sex trafficking, stalking, and assault on Tribal law enforcement officers.

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Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA) and Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act Introduced in the Senate

On December 7, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act (S. 3328). The bill would expand Tribal authority under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 by enabling Tribes to exercise criminal jurisdiction in cases of sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, and obstruction of justice committed against Tribal members by non-Native offenders.

On December 8, Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA) (S.3337), which would expand Tribal authority under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 to allow tribes to prosecute non-Native perpetrators of violence against children or law enforcement in domestic violence cases.


The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) advanced out of committee in the House and Senate.

On July 15, the House Committee on Education and Labor marked up H.R. 2119, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021 (FVPSA). The bill advanced out of Committee by a vote of 26-20.

On July 21, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions also marked up S. 1275. The bill advanced out of Committee by voice vote.

This FVPSA reauthorization bill provides critical support for shelters, coalitions, training and technical assistance centers, children’s services, emergency response hotlines, and prevention initiatives. The FVPSA is also the only federal grant program solely dedicated to domestic violence shelter and supportive services and is the primary source of funding for these services for Indian Tribes.

The FVPSA would expand grant programs and make many needed improvements so that more survivors have access to support and safety, including:

  • Increasing overall authorizations above $185 million to ensure greater access to shelter and supportive services;
  • Adjustment of the funding distribution formula to increase the amount that Tribes receive from 10% to 12.5%;
  • Dedicated authorization for Tribal coalitions to provide culturally appropriate technical assistance to Tribes;
  • Dedicated authorization for a national Indian domestic violence hotline; and Dedicated authorizations for an Alaska Tribal Resource Center on Domestic Violence to reduce disparities facing Native victims.

Tell your Representatives to pass FVPSA now!

Take Action!

Learn more about MMIW legislation happening in your state!

MMIW State Legislative Tracker Now Available

Graphic of Native woman with tear running down her face and red overlay with "MMIW State Legislative Tracker" and NIWRC in white.The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) State Legislative Tracker is a navigational database designed to help you easily search legislation relating to MMIW within your state and across the country. The Tracker is a continuation of the MMIW Monthly Legislative Summary, previously released as part of our monthly legislative update. Now in the form of a navigational database, we hope that this tool will be useful for state and local legislators, advocates, grassroots leaders, community members, and allies. Currently there are over 30 pieces of legislation moving through the process or already signed into law within this legislative session. 

The MMIW State Legislative Tracker is an educational policy resource, compiling current legislation (2020-2022) at the state level focused on addressing the crisis of MMIW. Included are summaries of the legislation, its status, links to relevant news articles, and more. Note: This resource does not promote or advocate any specific MMIW legislation, nor does it provide analysis of MMIW legislative proposals.

View the Tracker

Artwork by Danielle Fixico

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