NIWRC Commends House Vote to Move Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act Forward



(LAME DEER, Mont., March 17, 2021)—Today, the United States House of Representatives voted 244 to 172 to pass the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2021 (H.R. 1620). The bill, which was introduced on March 8, 2021 by Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would increase safety for Native people and communities by restoring tribal jurisdiction over crimes of stalking, sexual assault, sex trafficking, child abuse, obstruction of justice, and assault on law enforcement and corrections officers in cases involving non-Native perpetrators.

H.R. 1620 includes language that largely mirrors H.R. 1585, which passed in the House with bipartisan support in 2019, and S.2843, which was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in November 2019. The bill would build on the progress of the 2013 VAWA reauthorization by further strengthening and affirming the inherent sovereign authority of Tribal Nations to hold non-Indian perpetrators accountable.

“H.R. 1620 is an important step forward in addressing jurisdictional gaps that leave Native women and children vulnerable,” said Lucy Simpson, NIWRC Executive Director and a citizen of the Navajo Nation. “The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) applauds Representatives Jackson Lee, Fitzpatrick, and Nadler for their leadership, and the House of Representatives for taking swift action to pass VAWA.”

“Native victims of sexual violence, child abuse, stalking, and trafficking deserve the same protections that Congress afforded to domestic violence victims in VAWA 2013,” said Juana Majel-Dixon, Co-Chair of the National Congress of American Indians Task Force on Violence Against Women. “This is about our right, as governments, to protect our citizens from violence. It is about the countless victims who have experienced life-changing trauma simply because federal law has tied our hands from protecting them. We cannot allow this to continue. Passage of VAWA must be a priority in the 117th Congress, and we call on the Senate to move swiftly to take up H.R. 1620.”