VIDEO: Udall Leads Senate Democrats in Call for Action Following Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women National Day of Awareness
In a series of back-to-back floor speeches, the senators shed light on the epidemic of violence against Native women and demanded action, including enactment of key Tribal provisions in VAWA reauthorization to make Tribal communities safer
Udall: “We must take bipartisan action to end the cycle of violence and we should start by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and strengthening provisions to protect Native women”
WASHINGTON – Today, following the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls on May 5, a group of Senate Democrats led by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) took to the Senate floor to draw attention to the alarming epidemic of violence against women in Indian Country. In a series of back-to-back speeches, Udall, along with U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), called for bipartisan action, including urging Republican Senate leadership to take up a comprehensive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with key Tribal provisions to protect Native women and make Tribal communities safer.
Last month, the House of Representatives voted on a bipartisan basis to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired in February, and included critical measures to improve protections for Native women that build on the landmark Tribal jurisdiction provisions of the 2013 reauthorization. Such measures include Udall’s bipartisan bill, the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA), and Senator Tina Smith’s (D-Minn.) bipartisan bill, the Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act, which Udall co-sponsored. The Senate has yet to take up the House-passed VAWA legislation. Today, Senate Democrats called on Republicans not to let VAWA reauthorization languish in Majority Leader McConnell’s “legislative graveyard.”
“This [missing and murdered Indigenous women] crisis is devastating Native families across the country. It’s unacceptable,” said Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
“We must take bipartisan action to end the cycle of violence,” Udall continued. “And we should start by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and strengthening provisions to protect Native women.”
“Senators Murkowski and Smith and I have introduced the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act to ensure Tribes can exercise jurisdiction to prosecute crimes against children and tribal officers, and attempted domestic violence… We have also introduced the Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act, which makes sure that Tribes have authority to prosecute sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking crimes. The House of Representatives already passed these measures last month on a bipartisan basis – as part the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2019. It is now our turn to take action,” Udall concluded. “We cannot allow this bill to be buried in the Majority Leader’s so-called ‘legislative graveyard.’ Not when women’s lives are literally at stake. Friends: We must all agree it is long past time to address violence against women in Indian Country.”
The full text of Udall’s floor speech as prepared for delivery is available HERE.
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