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Native American Legislative Update

August 2020

By Kerri Colfer, August 31, 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).

FCNL Calls for Strong Tribal Provisions in FVPSA Reauthorization

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing funding for domestic violence shelters and services. FVPSA is especially vital for Indian Country, as it is the primary source of funding for these services in tribal communities. Shelters, training and technical assistance, emergency response hotlines, and children’s services are all supported by this law.

Last year, Sens. Bob Casey (PA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) introduced the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2259), which would increase the tribal set aside within FVPSA. It would also provide funding for additional tribal services, such as the StrongHearts Native Helpline, a culturally appropriate domestic violence helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

However, there is currently an effort underway to reauthorize FVPSA (S. 2971) without these important tribal provisions in the next COVID-19 relief package. FCNL, along with our tribal partners, wrote Congress opposing the inclusion of this inadequate FVPSA bill in any relief package, and called for stronger tribal provisions. Read FCNL’s legislative ask for FVPSA reauthorization.

COVID-19 Relief Packages Fall Short for Tribes

On July 27, Senate leadership released the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, a series of COVID-19 relief bills. The package was introduced in response to the House-passed HEROES Act (H.R. 6800).

The HEALS Act includes a $6.5 million tribal set-aside for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) and no funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants. The HEROES Act, which passed in the House on May 15, included a $5 million tribal FVPSA set aside and $7.8 million in VAWA grants to tribal governments.

Both bills fail to adequately address the needs of tribal governments and organizations as they deal with the rising cases of sexual and domestic violence in Indian Country during the pandemic. Negotiations are currently stalled, but it is essential that Congress pass a relief bill that provides for the needs of tribal governments and communities.

Read FCNL’s letter outlining our requests for tribal sexual and domestic violence funding.

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


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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.