Senate rejects Coburn-amendment to VAWA on tribal jurisdiction

The Senate will vote on other amendments to the bill on Tuesday before final passage. Coburn said his amendment would have reaffirmed the constitutional rights of every U.S. citizens.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Because Justice Department has not carried out its charge to protect those Native American people … this solution is to trample on the Bill of Rights of every American who is not Native American?” Coburn said ahead of the vote Monday.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the new Chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, said Coburn’s amendment wasn’t needed because all tribal courts have their own bill of rights that provides similar legal rights.

“All of these things are in the tribal system today under the Indian Civil Rights Act,” Cantwell said. “Both tribal members and non-tribal members are protected in their civil liberties and ability to appeal in federal court.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that there is no appeals process in the bill and that he wanted to offer an amendment that would have done just that, but it was prohibited from getting a vote.

The Senate bill, S. 47,  also prohibits discrimination against LGBT victims in grant programs to help victims, and would let illegal immigrants stay in the country to receive help if they are victims of domestic violence or rape.

VAWA provides grants to victims of domestic violence in order to encourage victims to leave their abusive situations. Some feel they can’t get away from their abusers because they might not have another form of family income, so the grants can provide housing assistance and cellphones for victims. Under this reauthorization bill, these programs would continue for another five years.

Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said work on VAWA would have to spill over into Tuesday because some senators' flights were delayed due to weather. There are five more amendments to the reauthorization bill that will be considered on Tuesday. Those votes are scheduled to start around 11 a.m. Descriptions follow:

- Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) amendment would reauthorize appropriations for fiscal years 2014 through 2017 for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, to enhance measures to combat human trafficking.

- Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) amendment would ensure that child victims of sex trafficking also have access to grants provided by VAWA, including educational services aimed to protect young victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

- Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) amendment is a technical correction that would clarify that in Alaska, Native American tribal jurisdiction would be for the Metla Katla tribe, which is the only tribe with land in Alaska despite other tribes residing in the state.

- Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) amendment would consolidate duplicative programs within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Coburn said his amendment would save at least $600 million that could be used to more quickly resolve rape cases by addressing the backlog of rape kit testing.

- Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) amendment would encourage states to test convicted rapists for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) so that victims know if they need to seek treatment. If states refused to make such an adjustment to their laws, they would receive 20 percent less in VAWA grants. The amendment would also help provide the necessary treatment to the victims if they were at risk of infection.

More in Senate

Coburn: Expanding national parks is ‘disastrous’

Read more »