Law | National | Politics

White House reaffirms support for tribal provisions in VAWA

The White House reaffirmed its support for S.1925, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, in a statement that highlighted the tribal provisions of the measure.

"Rates of domestic violence against Native American women are now among the highest in the United States," the White House said in the statement of administration policy. "The bill builds on the Tribal Law and Order Act – which President Obama signed on July 29, 2010 – to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of tribal justice systems and will provide additional tools to tribal and federal prosecutors to address domestic violence in Indian country.

The bill authorizes tribes to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit domestic violence offenses on reservations. Studies show that the majority of perpetrators of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women are not tribal members.

"The fact is we're helpless because they're non-members," Devon Boyer, a council member for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho, said at the White House last week. "We have no way of prosecuting them."

S.1925 has 60 co-sponsors, primarily Democrats and some Republicans, which normally means it would be ready for Senate passage. But the bill has been caught in partisan debate over the tribal and other provisions, an issue highlighted by Vice President Joe Biden during the White House event last week.

"Just ask yourself, what message does it send to our daughters, to every women imprisoned in their own homes ... if the law is not reauthorized," Biden said.

Senate Republicans have been working on an alternative that could be voted on this week during debate on S.1925.

Related Stories:
Opinion: GOP roadblock to the Violence Against Women Act (4/23)
Speech by Attorney General Eric Holder at VAWA event (4/18)
Sho-Ban leader joins Vice President Biden at VAWA event (4/16)
Editorial: Set aside politics for Violence Against Women Act (03/22)
Blog: Senate Republicans fight Violence Against Women Act (3/21)
Democrats push for action on Violence Against Women Act (3/15)
Opinion: Violence Against Women Act helps Indian women (3/15)
Turtle Talk: Republicans fighting Indian provisions in VAWA (3/12)
Rep. Betty McCollum co-sponsors SAVE Native Women Act (3/8)
Sen. Hatch opposes bill provisions to protect Native women (3/7)

Join the Conversation