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Welcome to FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update! NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage members of Congress.

Success Stories From 2020 and the Work Ahead For Indian Country

As 2020 comes to an end, it is important that we take stock of the work we have done, and look ahead to what must be accomplished with a new Congress in 2021. We start with a big disappointment: The 116th Congress has failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), despite our efforts to advocate for its passage with strong tribal provisions.

However, we have seen some significant steps forward for Indian Country and for addressing the crisis of violence against Native people. Two bills were signed into law: Savanna’s Act (P.L. 116-165) and the Not Invisible Act (P.L. 116-166). About $8 billion in COVID-19 relief funding from the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) went to tribal governments.

Congress still needs to do more to support tribes and Native people. Some critical areas of need include providing additional COVID-19 relief with maximum spending flexibility, broadband access, funding for shelters and victim services, and reauthorizing VAWA and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians.

However, I am truly grateful for everyone who has worked with me this year to ensure that Native communities are a priority for Congress. Many of our constituents have attended VAWA lobby trainings, written op-eds, financially supported our work, and taken action online.

I want to thank all of you who have subscribed to this newsletter and helped create remarkable progress in the face of great challenges. To tell us more about how you would like to be involved in our Native American advocacy program in 2021, please fill out this survey.

Native advocates stand outside U.S. Capitol wearing red shawls that read "sovereignty and Native women's safety"

Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act Passes House and Senate

The Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act (S. 212) passed the House on Dec. 3 and passed the Senate on Dec. 18. The bill will now go to the president’s desk.

The Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act, introduced by Sen. Hoeven (ND) and Rep. Torres (CA-35), addresses barriers to economic development in Native communities. In addition to providing additional resources to the Office of Native American Business Development, the bill requires coordination between the Departments of Interior, Treasury, and Commerce to support tribal economic development. It also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to use Native American goods and services unless it is determined impracticable and unreasonable to do so.

We hope to see this bill enacted by the end of the 116th Congress.

Bill Tracker

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 (P.L. 116-165) and Not Invisible Act (P.L. 116-166):

Signed into law by the president.

Special Diabetes Program for Indians:

Extended through Dec. 18, 2023.

What We’re Reading

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Kerri Colfer

Kerri Colfer

Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program 2019-2021
Kerri managed the Native American Advocacy Program, lobbying on legislation that affects Native communities.