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Native American Legislative Update

May 2020

By Kerri Colfer, May 28, 2020


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.

Earlier, FCNL held a virtual lobby training on VAWA reauthorization. Watch the recording here, and take action here.

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).

Urge your senators to include funding for tribal victim services in the next COVID-19 relief package.

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 (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


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Kerri Colfer

  • Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program

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