Published May 20, 2018
WASHINGTON – The House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment offered by Representatives Betty McCollum (D—MN) and Tom Cole (R—OK) that would support tribal victim services programs. The amendment was adopted by voice vote with overwhelming bi-partisan support.
“We greatly appreciate Congresswoman McCollum and Congressman Cole’s leadership and advocacy to ensure that crime victims on tribal lands have access to the healing and justice they need,” said Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
Despite federal and tribal government efforts to reduce violence on Indian lands, reservations continue to face staggering rates of violent crime and victimization. A recent Department of Justice (DOJ) study found that more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native adults have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime. Among American Indian and Alaska Native women, 55.5 percent have experienced physical violence by intimate partners in their lifetime, and more than half at 56.1 percent have experienced sexual violence. DOJ also found that Native victims are more likely to be injured as a result of their violent victimization, more likely to need services, and are significantly less likely to have access to services compared to their non-Native counterparts.
The McCollum-Cole Amendment is an amendment to the FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations (CJS) bill. Without this amendment, the bill would have cut tribal funding from the Crime Victims Fund. The Crime Victims Fund is the primary federal source for crime victim services and tribal governments have largely been shut out of that funding. Tribal funding was included for the first time in the FY18 Omnibus appropriations bill. The bill taken up in the House yesterday includes $2.6 billion in outlays from the Crime Victims Fund, the McCollum-Cole amendment directs 5 percent of that funding to tribal governments.
With its adoption by the House Appropriations Committee yesterday, NCAI hopes that similar language will be included in the Senate bill, thereby strengthening the ability of tribal governments to build sustainable crime victim services programs in their communities. The Senate has announced that it will be marking up its version of the FY 19 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill during the week of June 11.