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Native American Legislative Update

November 2019

By Kerri Colfer, November 25, 2019

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).

VAWA Negotiations in Senate Break Down

Bipartisan negotiations to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) broke down this month in the Senate, with one of the core disagreements centering on tribal criminal jurisdiction. As a result, two separate reauthorization bills were introduced on the Senate floor by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Joni Ernst (IA). Feinstein’s bill (S. 2843) includes measures contained in the House bill (H.R. 1585) passed in April, including provisions to restore tribal jurisdiction and address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Sen. Ernst’s bill (S. 2920) also expands tribal jurisdiction, but does not contain other critical protections included in H.R. 1585 and S. 2843. Please continue to urge your senators to support a VAWA bill that includes strong tribal provisions to protect Native women and restore tribal jurisdiction.

Senate Committee Approves Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act of 2019 on Nov. 20. Savanna’s Act (S. 227) would improve recording and reporting practices for law enforcement in cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and help develop guidelines for responding to such cases. The Not Invisible Act (S. 982) would create a Joint Advisory Commission to recommend ways to reduce violence against Native people. The bills will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

Subcommittee Hears Report on Underfunding of Indian Country Programs

The House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples held an oversight hearing on Nov. 19, “Reviewing the Broken Promises Report: Examining the Chronic Federal Funding Shortfalls in Indian Country.” The hearing focused on the underfunding of housing, education, health care, economic development, and public safety programs in Indian Country. Watch a (long) video of the hearing.

Farewell to Lacina

Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco (Shinnecock/Kiowa), FCNL’s first congressional advocate on Native American policy, finished her two-year fellowship this month. Lacina shaped the fellowship program and guided its current legislative focus on the Violence Against Women Act. FCNL is grateful for the dedication and passion she brought to the Native American program and for her advocacy on behalf of Native people. Lacina will now be the new policy specialist for the Native American Finance Officers Association. Congratulations, Lacina!

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 (S. 227) and Not Invisible Act (S. 982):

Passed in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and moved to the full Senate for consideration.

What We're Reading:

Kerri Colfer

  • Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program

Kerri manages the Native American Advocacy Program, lobbying on legislation that affects Native communities.