Domestic Violence Bill Reintroduced

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
Navajo Nation Washington Office
Cell 202.200.0625

***LEGISLATIVE ALERT***

Domestic Violence Bill Reintroduced

 President Shelly Praises Retention of Tribal Jurisdiction Provisions

WASHINGTON—Navajo Nation President Shelly today welcomed the reintroduction of legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and praised the continued inclusion of tribal provisions.

Introduced on Jan. 22 by Democratic members in both chambers, HR 11 and S 47, are identical to the VAWA reauthorization bill approved by the Senate last year.

A third Democratic bill, S 5, was introduced that would express the sense of the Senate that VAWA should be reauthorized in a way that ensures that all victims of domestic and sexual violence receive the support and protections of VAWA.

The VAWA bill previously approved by the Senate came under fire from Republicans in part due to concerns that its tribal provisions, which would authorize tribes to prosecute non-Indians in very narrow circumstances where they commit acts of domestic violence or violate protection orders, may unconstitutionally violate the rights of criminal defendants. 

It is likely that Republicans will attempt to amend the bills or introduce alternative legislation. Such legislation might reflect one of the various counterproposals suggested in the last Congress and aimed at addressing the problem of domestic violence in Indian Country, including empowering federal courts to issue protective orders, allowing defendants to remove their cases from tribal court if their rights are being violated, and characterizing the exercise of special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction as a ‘delegated’ authority, rather than an authority inherent in the sovereignty of the tribe.

Many of the counterproposals do not respect the status of tribal governments that are sovereign and distinct political entities that predate the U.S. Constitution.

Action on VAWA will likely be swift, however, since the makeup of Congress has not changed, we are not likely to see a major change in the debates.

The Navajo Nation previously endorsed the provisions in the Democratic bills, and the leadership of the Navajo Nation will continue to advocate on this important piece of legislation.

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Subtitle: 
President Shelly Praises Retention of Tribal Jurisdiction Provisions