Retiring GOP Congressman Blocks Savanna’s Act in House; Puts Bill in Jeopardy

Savannah LaFontaine Greywind

Published December 16, 2018

Rep. Bob Goodlatte

WASHINGTON — The Savanna Act, passed by the U.S. Senate as a unanimous consent bill earlier this month, is in serious trouble in the House of Representatives. Retiring Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, said Friday, without an explanation, he is blocking the measure. Goodlatte serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Named of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind from North Dakota who was brutally murdered in North Dakota last year, the legislation aims to address the epidemic of Native American women and girls who experience violence in their lives, especially on Indian reservations in the United States.

The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is reportedly fuming over Goodlatte’s block of the legislation. Heitkamp said Goodlatte is simply playing “petty partisan games.”

It is possible to still have the measure passed before the House of Represenatatives recess for the holidays, but given Goodlatte’s powerful position as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, his blocking is viewed as serious.

“If Savanna’s Act doesn’t pass in the next few days, it would have to be reintroduced in the next Congress, and the process would start from square one,” Heitkamp said in a statement on Friday. “We are so close to passing this critical bill to help address the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women, and getting it signed into law.”

“The actions of one Congressman shouldn’t stop us from improving tribal access to law enforcement databases and preventing the cycle of exploitation, abuse, and violence in Indian Country,” Heitkamp continues.

“I’d like to see Congressman Goodlatte actually visit a reservation in North Dakota and explain to the families of victims why he is blocking this bill,” Heitkamp said. “Unlike Congressman Goodlatte, I am serious about saving lives and making sure Native American women are invisible no longer — and I’m determined to not let Savanna’s Act go down without a fight.”

Concerned individuals should contact Goodlatte’s Congressional office at 202-225-5431.

Related: Named for Murdered Native Woman – Savanna’s Act Passes U.S. Senate

Related: Five Things the Savannah Act Means for Indian Country

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