November 20, 2019

Udall, Indian Affairs Committee Advance Legislation to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis

Udall-supported Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women will advance to the Senate floor after today’s committee vote

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, released the following statement after the committee’s action to approve two bills to combat the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW).

The two bills, Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act of 2019, passed the committee in a roll call vote of 12-1, with one absence.

“The missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis is appalling and demands the attention of Congress and the entire nation,” Udall said. “Native women and families have waited too long for justice. Native women deserve prompt and thorough action to address these horrifying crimes. Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act are important first steps to make sure that Native women receive the justice they are entitled to, while making Native communities stronger and safer in the process.

“I am proud that the Indian Affairs committee has advanced these urgent bills, which put forward concrete solutions to address the coordination barriers between law enforcement and federal agencies that worsen the MMIW crisis,” Udall continued.  “Moving these two bipartisan bills out of committee today demonstrates our shared commitment to improving Tribal public safety and to being responsive to Tribes and Native communities. I look forward to getting both bills through the full Senate and signed into law as soon as possible.

“These bills are an important step, and Leader McConnell should allow them to pass the full Senate,” Udall concluded. “But Leader McConnell and Republican leadership also must stop standing in the way of a Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that includes strengthened provisions for Indian Country, to protect Native women, families and communities. I was proud to work with Senator Feinstein and the House of Representatives to ensure our Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bills address the jurisdictional barriers facing many Indian Tribes. The time to act on these bills is long overdue. Indian Country can’t afford to wait because of Mitch McConnell’s inaction any longer.”

Last week, Udall joined Senate Democrats in introducing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (VAWA). The bill, which is similar to the bipartisan VAWA reauthorization package passed by the House of Representatives in April, includes key Tribal provisions that protect Native women, make Tribal communities safer, and build on the landmark Tribal jurisdiction provisions of the 2013 reauthorization.

Savanna's Act:

- Requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide training to law enforcement on how to record Tribal enrollment information of MMIW victims in federal databases.

- Mandates that the Attorney General consult with Tribes on how to improve federal databases in light of the MMIW crisis.

- Requires the creation of regional guidelines that federal, Tribal, state, and local law enforcement agencies can use to improve response to MMIW cases.

- Requires DOJ to include MMIW data in an annual report to Congress.

The Not Invisible Act of 2019:

- Requires the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) Bureau of Indian Affairs-Office of Justice Services to designate a point person to coordinate violent crime prevention efforts in Native communities across all relevant federal agencies. 

- Directs DOI and DOJ to establish a commission composed of relevant federal agencies, Tribal leaders, MMIW survivors, families impacted by MMIW, and other stakeholders to develop recommendations on improving the federal MMIW response.

- Directs DOI and DOJ to submit a formal response to the commission’s recommendations to Congress within 90 days of receiving the recommendations

More information on Savanna’s Act can be found HERE and the bill text can be found HERE. The full text of the Not Invisible Act of 2019 can be found HERE.