Law | Politics | Trust

NCAI optimistic on a land-into-trust fix, VAWA during lame-duck





Tribes are optimistic that Congress will take action on two important bills during the lame-duck session, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians said on Thursday.

A fix to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act are high on the tribal agenda for the remainder of the 112th Congress. "I think our prospects are good," NCAI executive director Jackie Pata said on a post-election day conference call.

President Barack Obama, who won a second term in office, has consistently supported the Carcieri fix but it has never cleared both chambers of Congress. With Democrats still in control of the Senate, Pata said tribes will continue to push for a bill that will ensure all tribes, regardless of the date of federal recognition, can follow the land-into-trust process.

Pata also said the election showed the importance of women's voices. Two Republicans who were expected to win their Senate races were defeated after making controversial comments about sexual assault and gender.

S.1925, the Senate's version of the VAWA measure, includes provisions to recognize tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders. Data shows American Indian and Alaska Native women are more likely to be victimized by non-Indians

"We need every voice out there" during the lame-duck session, Pata said on the call.

Lawmakers are expected to return to work on November 13.

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