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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Bipartisan Congressional Leaders Call for Senate Passage of House's VAWA

December 20, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – This week, Congressional Native American Caucus Co-Chairs Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) led a group of bipartisan congressional leaders calling for the passage of the bipartisan House version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). 

The letter follows Senate introduction of VAWA in which Senator Joni Ernst (R-Id.) introduced a deeply altered VAWA that stripped critical protections for Native survivors of domestic violence and includes provisions that undermine tribal sovereignty. Representatives Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), David Joyce (R-Ohio), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Mike Simpson (R-Ind.) joined in signing the letter.

In the letter, the lawmakers wrote, “The final version of the House passed bill works to seek justice for tribes that have historically lacked the public safety resources to protect their members and, if passed into law, will ensure these injustices don’t continue to exacerbate the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis in the United States.”

The letter specifically pointed to Senate changes in the VAWA reauthorization that impact tribal courts and civil rights protections.

“Provisions included in S. 2920 clearly undermine tribal sovereignty … the protection of any woman or child regardless of where they live or what group they belong to should never be treated as a partisan issue. We respectfully ask that you immediately come to a consensus on these critical tribal provisions and pass the carefully thought out bipartisan version of the VAWA reauthorization,” the lawmakers continued in the letter.

The full letter sent to U.S. Senate leadership is available here.

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