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Cole Urges Support for Violence Against Women Act

March 7, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor in support of S.47, the Violence Against Women Act:

I want to praise Leader Cantor for his hard work and effort to truly understand the problems Indian women face.  The House version has improved tremendously over what this body passed last Congress, and that is due in large part to Leader Cantor’s efforts.

That being said, I cannot support the House version of VAWA.  While it has made great strides in recognizing the jurisdiction of tribal courts over non-Indian offenders, it falls short of giving tribes what they need to keep their women safe.

Unlike the Senate version, the House version fails to recognize existing tribal sovereignty that is enshrined in the Constitution and has been recognized ever since. The House Version requires tribes to seek DOJ certification before exercising jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders.  I cannot think of any example where one sovereign has to seek permission to exercise their rights as a sovereign. It doesn’t make sense to ask tribes to willingly abdicate part of their sovereignty to exercise anther part of their sovereignty.

In the same vein, the House bill waives sovereign immunity on behalf of the tribes.  As sovereigns, tribes should make the decision on whether to waive their sovereign immunity.
I want to thank my colleague, Mr. Nugent for yielding the time.  I support this rule and urge my colleagues to vote no on the House amendment to the underlying bill and support the underlying bill that has been passed by the Senate.