An empty red dress is seen at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington as part of "The REDress Project," an installation by Métis artist Jaime Black that raises awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Trump administration again fails to respond to #MMIW and tribal jurisdiction bills

The Trump administration has once again failed to offer a position on bipartisan Indian Country safety legislation.

The Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice missed a July 8 deadline to provide input to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, The Associated Press reports. The deadline was set following a June 19 hearing in which officials from the agencies not only submitted their testimony late but were unprepared to offer any comments on bills addressing tribal jurisdiction and the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“I was deeply frustrated when DOI and DOJ showed up completely unprepared to our committee’s hearing on these critical bills,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), the vice chairman of the committee, told the AP. “Weeks later, the administration still has not delivered on its promised ‘renewed commitment’ to tribal public safety, failing to meet this deadline even after being granted an extension.”

The five bills at issue are:

S.227, also known as Savanna's Act. The bill, named in honor of Savanna Marie Greywind, a Spirit Lake Nation woman who went missing and was murdered in 2017, requires the federal government to account for the numbers of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives the first time.

S.288, the Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act. The bill recognizes tribal authority over non-Indians who commit sexual assault, sex trafficking and stalking.

S.290, the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act. The bill recognizes tribal authority over non-Indians who commit crimes against children and against law enforcement.

S.982, the Not Invisible Act. The bill includes provisions to address the crisis of missing, murdered and trafficked Native Americans by improving coordination among federal agencies and by including survivors of trafficking and family members of the missing and murdered on a new advisory committee.

S.1853, the Bridging Agency Data Gaps and Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act. The bill helps tribes, states and the federal government address the crisis of the missing and murdered, and improves coordination among law enforcement in tribal communities.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Legislative Hearing to receive testimony on S.227, S.288, S.290, S.982 & S.1853

A committee rule adopted for the 116th Congress requires witnesses to submit testimony 48 hours in advance. The Trump administration has broken the rule multiple times since the session began in January.

The rule also requires witnesses to explain why their testimony was not submitted on time. Trump administration officials have blamed bureaucratic delays.

According to the AP, Interior has provided a “partial comment” to the legislation while Justice hasn't responded at all.

Read More on the Story
Feds missed 2nd deadline for Congress’ tribal safety bills (The Associated Press July 16, 2019)

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice
Legislative Hearing to receive testimony on S. 227, S. 288, S. 290, S. 982 & S. 1853 (June 19, 2019)

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