Native Women in Red Shawls
Native women wear red shawls at the National Congress of American Indians annual convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 22, 2019. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Omnibus federal funding bill moving forward in Congress
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Indianz.Com

A $1.5 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund federal agencies and avert a shutdown of the U.S. government has been released.

H.R.2471, whose title will be Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2022, runs more than 2,700 pages. In addition to funding the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service, it includes a major section of interest to Indian Country.

Division W of the omnibus includes a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Expanding on the 2013 version of the law, the bill recognizes tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes against women, elders and children.

The reauthorization addresses gaps in jurisdiction that had not been addressed in 2013. Title VII of Division WSafety for Indian Women — includes the following “covered crimes” that tribes will be able to arrest, prosecute and sentence:

  • assault of tribal justice personnel;
  • child violence;
  • dating violence;
  • domestic violence;
  • obstruction of justice;
  • sexual violence;
  • sex trafficking;
  • stalking; and
  • violation of a protection order

Additionally, and for the first time, the reauthorization extends recognition of tribal jurisdiction to Indian nations in Maine. Tribes in the state are currently excluded from VAWA due to unique requirements affecting their sovereign rights.

Also for the first time, the bill brings VAWA jurisdiction to tribes in Alaska. The Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment provisions create a pilot program, much like the one that applied to the lower 48 states in the 2013 law.

As for the BIA and the IHS, funding for the two agencies that provide the bulk of programs to Indian Country can be found in Division G of H.R.2471. Lawmakers have released an explanation of the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2022, that runs 269 pages.

Otherwise, the omnibus does not include provisions to extend federal recognition to any tribes or petitioning groups. Tribes and their advocates are still looking over the text of the package, which was released in the early morning hours on Wednesday, Eastern time.

Funding for the federal government expires on March 11. To address the fast approaching deadline, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass H.J.Res.75, a bill to extend current funding levels through March 15.

The chamber will begin consideration of H.R.2471 on Wednesday, according to the House Majority Leader’s calendar. Once the bill clears the House, it can be taken up by the U.S. Senate ahead of the March 15 deadline.

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