Senate Rejects Substitute for VAWA Bill S. 47


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February 7  |  Washington, D.C. -- After a day of debate on S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the Senate repelled a watered-down substitute offered by Senator Grassley (R-IA) that would have gutted its core provisions and stripped out the strengthened protections for Native women.  The Senate soundly rejected the Grassley substitute by a vote of 65-34.

On January 22, 2013, identical bills—S. 47 and H.R. 11—for a stronger, more inclusive VAWA were introduced in both chambers of Congress.  S. 47 is substantially the same as S. 1925, the bipartisan bill approved by the Senate last spring with a technical tweak to remove the procedural problem that kept it from reaching the House floor in 2012.  President Obama has already issued his support for S. 47.

S. 47 includes key provisions that would restore limited concurrent criminal jurisdiction to tribes to prosecute non-Indians who choose to commit crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault against tribal citizens on tribal lands.  Native women experience rates of violence 2 ½ times that of any other population and many live on reservations where the murder rate is 10 times the national average.  It is estimated that 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped, and 39% will be victims of domestic violence, in their lifetimes.  Some 67% of Native women who are raped and sexually assaulted report their assailants as non-Native.  Earlier today, the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Native Women sent a letter to Senators Leahy and Crapo strongly opposing any harmful amendments to S. 47.  The NCAI Policy Research Center also issued a Policy Insights Brief synthesizing Statistics on Violence Against Native Women, dated February 2013. 

Votes on amendments to S. 47, as well as the Senate’s final passage of the bill, is expected Monday and will be viewable on C-SPAN2 at


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