VAWA Debate Continues in U.S. Senate

Senate rejects Coburn-amendment to VAWA on tribal jurisdiction

By Ramsey Cox – 02/11/13 06:28 PM ET
“The Senate rejected an amendment Monday that would have removed a provision in the reauthorization to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to give Native American tribes jurisdiction over non-tribal members that commit assaults against Native Americans.The amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) failed on a 31-59 vote. It would have removed a controversial section of the reauthorization bill, which gives tribal courts jurisdiction over non-Native Americans who commit a domestic violence crime or rape on tribal land or against a Native American.The Senate will vote on other amendments to the bill on Tuesday before final passage.

Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said work on VAWA would have to spill over into Tuesday because some senators’ flights were delayed due to weather. There are five more amendments to the reauthorization bill that will be considered on Tuesday. Those votes are scheduled to start around 11 a.m. Descriptions follow:

– Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) amendment would reauthorize appropriations for fiscal years 2014 through 2017 for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, to enhance measures to combat human trafficking.

– Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) amendment would ensure that child victims of sex trafficking also have access to grants provided by VAWA, including educational services aimed to protect young victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

– Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) amendment is a technical correction that would clarify that in Alaska, Native American tribal jurisdiction would be for the Metla Katla tribe, which is the only tribe with land in Alaska despite other tribes residing in the state.

– Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) amendment would consolidate duplicative programs within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Coburn said his amendment would save at least $600 million that could be used to more quickly resolve rape cases by addressing the backlog of rape kit testing.”

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