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117th Congress Legislative Update: October 2022


Presidential Proclamation on National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month 2022

On September 30, President Biden proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (DVAM) and called on all Americans to speak out against domestic violence and support victims, survivors, advocates, and service providers.

To read NIWRC’s statement and for a list of our DVAM activities this month, click here

House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States (SCIP) Oversight Hearing on Castro-Huerta Supreme Court Ruling

On September 20, the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples (SCIP) held an oversight hearing entitled “Examining Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta: The Implications of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Tribal Sovereignty.” Mary Kathryn Nagle, Counsel to NIWRC, testified at the hearing about the negative impact the Castro-Huerta ruling has on the safety of Native women, children, and communities. Watch the hearing here.

On September 26, the US Department of Justice hosted a Tribal consultation on the Castro-Huerta decision.

Bridging Agency Data Gaps and Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act

On September 22, Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) led Tom Cole (R-OK-04), Sharice Davids (D-KS-03), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA-03) in introducing the BADGES for Native Communities Act (S. 4923 /H.R. 8960). The bill promotes recruitment and retention of federal law enforcement, addresses inefficiencies in federal missing persons data systems, increases Tribal access to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and establishes a grant program to improve coordination efforts between states, Tribes, and Tribal organizations on cases of missing and murdered persons.

Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2021 (FVPSA)

On October 26, 2021, the United States House of Representatives voted 228 to 200 to pass the bipartisan Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (FVPSA) of 2021 (H.R. 2119). The bill, which was introduced on March 23, 2021 by Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA-06), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Don Young (R-AK-At Large), and John Katko (R-NY-24), provides critical funding for shelter and supportive services for victims of domestic violence, including those in Indian Country.

On July 21, 2021, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions 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:

  • Adjustment of the funding distribution formula to increase the amount that Tribes receive from 10% to 12.5%;
  • Dedicated funding for Tribal coalitions to provide culturally-appropriate technical assistance to Tribes;
  • Permanent funding for the national Indian domestic violence hotline;
  • Permanent funding for the Alaska Tribal Resource Center on Domestic Violence to reduce disparities facing Native victims; and
  • Permanent funding for the Native Hawaiian Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

Learn more here.

Take Action!

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

On March 10, the U.S. Senate voted to reauthorize the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA) through the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (H.R. 2471), the omnibus government funding bill for the fiscal year 2022. The bill was signed into law by President Biden on March 15. 

Now reauthorized through 2027, VAWA 2022 includes historic provisions that restore critical categories of Tribal criminal jurisdiction necessary to protect Native women and children, including sexual assault, stalking, sex trafficking, child violence, obstruction of justice, and assault on Tribal justice personnel.

In addition to restoring Tribal jurisdiction over certain crimes, VAWA:

  • Codifies the Tribal Access Program (TAP) to enhance Tribes’ ability to access and obtain information from national criminal information databases;

  • Establishes a reimbursement program, through which the U.S. Attorney General may reimburse Tribal governments for expenses incurred in exercising special Tribal criminal jurisdiction (STCJ);

  • Permanently reestablishes the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Tribal Prisoner Program to allow Indian Tribes to place offenders convicted in Tribal Courts of violent crimes in federal facilities if the sentence includes a term of imprisonment for one or more years; and

  • Increases resources to Tribal governments exercising STCJ.

The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act also establishes an Alaska pilot project, which will enable a limited number of Alaska Native villages to exercise STCJ, and clarifies that Tribes in Maine are also eligible to exercise STCJ.

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