Senate Passes Tester's Bill to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Epidemic
Savanna's Act Now Needs to Pass the House Before Heading to President's Desk
(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bill to help address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic unanimously passed the Senate Thursday night, just a few weeks after the Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously voted to send Savanna’s Act to the Senate floor.
“All of us must work together to end this epidemic,” Tester said. “Savanna’s Act would ensure we all have access to the most comprehensive data regarding these crimes and make sure law enforcement agencies are on the same page as they investigate this unacceptable epidemic.”
According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 80 percent of native women have experienced violence—almost half within the last year. As a senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has worked hard to raise awareness about this epidemic, support survivors, and bring their assailants to justice.
Savanna’s Act would require the U.S. Department of Justice to better collect and report crime data and increase access to federal crime databases that track missing persons across Indian Country. It would also create standard guidelines for responding to cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, laying out a clear framework for cooperation between tribal, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
Earlier this year, Tester secured a historic $133 million to help tribes assist survivors of violent crimes through the Crime Victims Fund and is sponsoring legislation to make this funding permanent. The SURVIVE Act was passed unanimously out of Committee and is currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.
Tester has called for a Senate hearing on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic, which will take place on December 12, 2018.