Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
WASHINGTON On Monday evening, the United States Senate voted by an 85 to 8 margin voted to begin debate on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, also known as S. 47.
The Tribal Jurisdiction Provision
S. 47 was introduced in the 113th Congress on January 21 by Senator Patrick Leahy, D - Vermont and Senator Mike Crapo, R - Idaho. The bill has 59 cosponsors.
Of concern to American Indians and Alaska Natives is the tribal jurisdiction provision that will allow tribal courts the ability to hear domestic violence offenses committed against Native women by non Native men on tribal lands.
As it stands now, federal and state law enforcement have jurisdiction over domestic violence on tribal lands. Tribal law enforcement and courts lack jurisdiction to adequately handle these cases.
Unfortunately, the lack of tribal jurisdiction over offenders has allowed violence against Native women to hit epidemic proportions. Sadly, one in three Native women will be raped, three in five will suffer domestic abuse and on some reservations, the homicide rate of Native women is 10 times the national average.
This year's version of the VAWA mirrors the Senate version when it comes to the tribal jurisdiction provision. Last year, it was the House of Representatives that failed to bring it to the House floor due, in part, to the tribal jurisdiction provision.
Eight Republican senators voted against beginning the debate on S. 47. They are: Senators Ted Cruz, Texas; Mike Johanns, Nebraska; Rand Paul, Kentucky; Tim Scott, South Carolina; Pat Roberts, Kansas; Mike Lee, Utah; Marco Rubio, Florida and James Risch, Idaho.
The senators will be in retreat in their respective partisan parties on Tuesday and Wednesday.
S. 47 is expected to be voted on this Thursday, according to a source from the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
posted February 5, 2013 7:20 am est