Welcome to FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update! The NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage your members of Congress. FCNL’s Congressional Advocate for Native American policy is Kerri Colfer (Tlingit).
National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls
Congress and the administration designated May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. To commemorate the day, organizations and advocates hosted virtual events to bring awareness to domestic and sexual violence in Indian Country. This crisis has worsened in recent weeks due to the stay-at-home orders established by many tribes and states in response to the pandemic.
To address the violence, advocates and members of Congress called for increased funding for tribal victim services and passage of Savanna’s Act (H.R. 2733) and the Not Invisible Act (H.R. 2438). They also called for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with strong tribal provisions.
Treasury Releases CARES Act Funding to Tribes
On May 5, the Department of Treasury announced that it would begin distributing funding from the CARES Act (H.R. 748) to tribes. This announcement came after Reps. Deb Haaland (NM-1) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-7) called on the Treasury to immediately disburse the funds, which had been delayed for more than a month after the bill was signed into law.
HEROES Act Allocates Funds for Tribes
The HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), which passed the House on May 15, included more much-needed funding for tribal governments and organizations to address the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tribal provisions include a $20 billion tribal set-aside from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and $2.1 billion for the Indian Health Service.
Of this $2.1 billion, $20 million is earmarked for healthcare and housing for homeless Native Americans and victims of domestic violence in Indian Country. In addition, tribes would receive $7.8 million for VAWA grants and an additional $4 million in FY2020 to assist with the implementation of Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ).
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019:
Passed in the House (H.R. 1585), two versions introduced in the Senate (S. 2920 and S. 2843).
Savanna’s Act (H.R. 2733/S. 227) and Not Invisible Act (H.R. 2438/S. 982):
Passed in the Senate and advanced in House.
Special Diabetes Program for Indians:
Extended through Nov. 30, 2020.
What We’re Reading and Writing
- Coronavirus and red tape in Indian Country are costing lives.
- Ireland sends coronavirus relief to tribes to repay a favor from 173 years ago.
- Muscogee Creek Nation reservation in Oklahoma at risk in recent Supreme Court case.
- South Dakota governor threatens legal action against tribes for failing to remove road checkpoints in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.