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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and renewed his call for Senate leadership to take up a comprehensive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that includes key Tribal provisions Udall helped author to protect Native women and make Tribal communities safer.

“The passage of the Violence Against Women Act twenty-five years ago was one of Congress’ most important legislative achievements, and I have been proud to stand with all women in fighting for funding and reauthorization of this landmark law during my time in Congress. While great progress has been made, much more needs to be done to ensure that survivors receive the support, the shelter, and the justice they deserve,”Udall said.

“The crisis rates of violence against Native women in particular demand our full attention and immediate action. Native women and families deserve to be safe in their homes and in their communities – full stop. That is why it is unacceptable that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up the House-passed Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that includes critical provisions I helped author to promote public safety for women and families in Indian Country,” Udall said.

“In 2013, I was proud to lead the charge to make sure that Native women were included in the Violence Against Women Act. That was a step in the right direction. But there are still gaps in VAWA that allow violent offenders to slip through the cracks of the justice system, and we need to do better. We must act urgently to end the cycle of violence by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and strengthening provisions to protect Native women,” Udall said.

The House of Representatives voted on a bipartisan basis in April to reauthorize VAWA, which built on the landmark Tribal jurisdiction provisions of the 2013 reauthorization to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis. These measures are based on Udall’s bipartisan bill, the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA), and Senator Tina Smith’s (D-Minn.) bipartisan bill, the Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act, which Udall co-sponsored. NYTOPA reaffirms Tribal authority to prosecute attempted and threatened domestic violence and extends the VAWA 2013 protections to children and law enforcement personnel on Tribal lands. Senator Smith’s bill addresses sexual violence on Indian reservations by restoring Tribal authority to prosecute cases of sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking.

Udall has also introduced the Bridging Agency Data Gaps & Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act. This bipartisan bill addresses critical public safety needs in Indian Country by addressing federal inefficiencies that hurt Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement recruitment and retention, increasing the effectiveness of federal missing persons resources, and giving Tribes and States resources to coordinate responses to the MMIW crisis.

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