Tester’s Bill to Improve Public Safety, Increase Support Services in Indian Country Takes Next Step Forward

Bipartisan Bill Voted Unanimously out of Senate Indian Affairs Committee

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s legislation to improve public safety and increase support services in Indian Country is on its way to the Senate floor.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously passed Tester’s Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act. Tester emphasized how important this bill is to tribal law enforcement and survivors of violent crimes.

“For too long, critical public safety resources dried up before they made it to Indian Country,” Tester said. “This bill will guarantee that survivors of violent crimes have access to the resources they need to recover, heal, while ensuring service providers can deliver culturally appropriate services during a great time of need.”

Tester’s SURVIVE Act sets aside five percent of the Crime Victims Fund to establish and secure a critical funding stream not previously accessible to tribes. This tribal account would provide an additional $150 million that tribes could use to assist survivors of violent crimes. The SURVIVE Act can support domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, legal assistance and services, and child and elder abuse prevention.

The Crime Victims Fund pays for itself by collecting criminal fines, forfeited appearance bonds, penalties, special assessments, gifts, and donations. Currently, every state in the country has access to a set-aside fund from the Crime Victims Fund, but state funds almost never reach Native American communities.

The SURVIVE Act awaits a final vote on the Senate floor.