Tester’s Bill to Study Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis Clears House & Moves to Senate

Senator’s bill to improve cooperation between Tribes and law enforcement included in the House-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

(U.S. Senate) – Just six weeks after U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced the Studying the Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act, the U.S. House of Representatives passed his bill along with other provisions to combat the crisis of missing, murdered, and trafficked Indigenous women in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which now heads to the Senate.

“Indigenous women are more likely to experience violence in their lifetimes,” Tester said. “This bill builds on the progress of the Violence Against Women Act by expanding protections for Native women and giving Tribes more resources to combat the MMIW crisis, and I’m urging Leader McConnell to bring it up for a vote in the Senate so we can put it on the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

Tester’s Studying the Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a full review of how federal agencies respond to reports of missing and murdered Native Americans and recommend solutions based on their findings.

In addition to Tester’s bill, VAWA includes provisions that extend tribal jurisdiction over crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, and assault against a Native person by non-Natives. It also requires the Attorney General to work with Tribes to create a standardized reporting protocol for responding to cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and improves Tribal access to federal crime information databases.

Tester also recently introduced the Not Invisible Act to streamline tribal and federal efforts to combat the MMIW crisis.

As a senior member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has taken a three-pronged approach to ending the MMIW crisis focused on raising awareness, empowering tribes and finding solutions.

He helped secure language in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 that finally allowed tribes to prosecute non-Native offenders. Since then, 18 tribes have used their newfound authority to arrest 143 offenders.

Tester also recently reintroduced two landmark pieces of legislation aimed at combatting the MMIW crisis. Savanna’s Act would improve information sharing between tribes and federal law enforcement and increase data collection on missing persons in Indian Country and the SURVIVE Act would give tribes permanent access to resources that help survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

More information on Tester’s work to combat the MMIW crisis is available HERE.