Passing VAWA…again

VAWAS. 47, the Senate bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act is sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 59 co-sponsors, including Nevada Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV).  Votes are expected sometime after 2:00 pm (Eastern) this Tuesday.

Title IX, section 204 is of particular interest to Native American victims of domestic violence.

“(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in addition to all powers of self-government recognized and affirmed by sections 201 and 203, the powers of self-government of a participating tribe include the inherent power of that tribe, which is hereby recognized and affirmed, to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over all persons. (2) CONCURRENT JURISDICTION- The exercise of special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction by a participating tribe shall be concurrent with the jurisdiction of the United States, of a State, or of both.”

There are two exceptions to this jurisdictional framework: If the persons involved are not Native Americans, or if the defendant has no ties to the tribe.

This version of the bill has been modified since the last session:

“The Senate version has been tweaked from the version considered last year, with sponsors scuttling a provision on law-enforcement visas given to undocumented immigrants who’ve been the victim of domestic violence. Democrats did this for procedural reasons — it gives the House fewer excuses to ignore the bill — and expect to address this in a comprehensive immigration reform bill, so the issue isn’t being dropped altogether.

VAWA supporters in the Senate did not, however, get rid of LGBT provisions or a measure that extends tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal land.

House Republicans have balked at these provisions in the past, but at least for now, senators don’t care.”  [MSNBC blog]

Now it will be up to the House of Representatives to step up and do the right thing.

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