the house gop leader sank VAWA in 2012, the fight starts anew in 2013
The GOP House Leader Sank VAWA in 2012, the Fight Starts Anew in 2013
January 14, 2013
Native American and congressional advocates of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are frustrated that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., held up a compromise in the waning days of the 112th Congress that would have allowed the legislation to become law, and delivered protections they say are necessary to decrease violence against Indian women.
“It was an inexcusable failure by House Republican leaders and one that will have real-life implications for women who now find themselves with nowhere to turn for help,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and a leading supporter of the tribal provisions, wrote on her website. “It was also another reminder, coming on the same day that House Republican leaders refused to pass aid to states ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, that these leaders continue to answer to the most radical elements of their party regardless of who or what is at stake.”
The main sticking point in getting a VAWA compromise that would have passed in the House and Senate, Murray and other congressional sources say, was Cantor’s opposition to the tribal provisions of the Senate version of the bill passed in April. Those provisions would allow tribal courts to have jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes of violence on Indian lands—an ability that tribal courts currently do not have, which is one reason why non-Indian violence on reservations is so high, according to Indian advocates.
Federal statistics indicate that the violence rate experienced by Indian women and families is the highest among any racial group in the United States, and a large part of the problem is the ability of non-Indian perpetrators to harm Indians without fear of facing a tribal court. Instead, the feds are left with the job of prosecuting those crimes, and federal justice officials have said they don’t have enough resources to handle all of those cases.