Limited Filibuster Reform Surrounds Patricia Millett’s Nomination

WaPo article here.

The Senate voted 57 to 40, with three abstentions, to reconsider Millett’s nomination. Several procedural votes followed. The Senate parliamentarian, speaking through Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber’s president pro tempore, then ruled that 60 votes are needed to cut off a filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote. Reid appealed that ruling, asking senators to decide whether it should stand.

The Democratic victory paved the way for the confirmation of Millett and two other nominees to the D.C. appeals court. All have recently been stymied by GOP filibusters, amid Republican assertions that the critical appellate court simply did not need any more judges.

Under its new rules, the Senate subsequently voted 55 to 43 Thursday afternoon to move ahead with Millett’s nomination. Two senators voted present.

Senate rules still require up to 30 hours of debate on the Millett nomination. So a final confirmation vote on the nomination is expected to be held in mid-December after the two-week Thanksgiving recess.

NCAI Statement on VAWA

Violence Against Women Act Passes Senate with Increased Bipartisan Support for Tribal Provisions

Recent Senate votes on VAWA indicate clear support for constitutionality of local tribal authority

Washington, DC – In a 78–22 vote today, the Senate passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with a net gain of ten votes since last year’s vote on the comprehensive S.1925 VAWA reauthorization. Now with support of more than three-quarters of the Senate, the VAWA legislation heads to the House of Representatives and includes Title IX; the constitutionally sound tribal jurisdiction provisions authorizing tribal governments to prosecute non-Indian defendants involved in intimate relationships with Native women and who assault these victims on tribal land. Current federal laws do not authorize tribal law enforcement or tribal courts to pursue any form of prosecution or justice against these perpetrators.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is calling the recent votes on VAWA, including today’s bipartisan vote, a clear indication of agreement that the tribal provisions are constitutional, and equally as important, that a final VAWA must provide local tribal authorities the ability to pursue justice for Native women and protect local communities. On Monday the Senate defeated the constitutionality question by striking down an amendment offered by Senator Tom Coburn (OK) to strip the tribal provisions entirely from the bill.

“Today’s passage of the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate, and previous votes to defeat harmful amendments to the bill, sends a clear message to the House that a strong VAWA bill with the tribal provisions must be passed immediately. There is no reason for further delay. This is violence that cuts deep into the hearts of our community. Addressing violence against any women, including Native women, is a priority of all Americans, and the safety of both Native and non-Native communities should not be marginalized,” said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI, from NCAI’s offices in Washington, DC.

“We look forward to members from both parties coming together to deliver real policy solutions that solve a problem, that if left unaddressed, would leave Native women and local communities in peril. Nothing could be more unimaginable or reprehensible,” Keel concluded.

The legislation heads to the House of Representatives now and while progress on the bill stalled last year, NCAI and its partners remain optimistic and encouraged that a strong VAWA Reauthorization with the tribal provisions will be passed.

“Women and men – Native and non-Native, Senators and Representatives from all backgrounds, and tribal leaders from across Indian Country have all spoken that these injustices must not continue. We intend to keep speaking from our heart and with the law by our side until a comprehensive VAWA is passed. And with the tribal provisions included,” added Juana Majel-Dixon, 1st Vice President of NCAI and the Co-chair of the organization’s Task Force on Violence Against Women. “We are thankful that there are strong leaders in both the House and Senate that have stood for the protections of Native women, regardless of party politics. Native women and our surrounding communities need justice not more obstructions to it – the only obstacle standing in the way is politics.”

Findings show that 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes* and 39% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be subjected to violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes**. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46% of people living on reservations in 2010 were non-Natives (single race) and 59% of American Indian women in 2010 were married to non-Native men***.

The NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women was established in 2000 and has been working for thirteen years to protect the lives of Native American women and create more secure tribal communities.

* Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Findings from the National Violence against Women Survey.
** Centers for Disease Control. (2008). Adverse health conditions and health risk behaviors associated with intimate partner violence.
***US Census Bureau, Census 2010.

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Senate Approves VAWA Reauthorization 78-22


Official roll call.

Navajo’s press release:

Senate Approves Domestic Violence Bill
Tribal Provisions Remain InTact

WASHINGTON—The Senate today passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in a broad, bipartisan vote of 78-22. The bill reauthorizes the Act for the next five years.

The bill keeps language intact that provides added protections to Native American women from domestic violence crimes on tribal lands, and would allow tribes to prosecute non-Indians in narrow circumstances where they commit acts of domestic violence against Indians or violate domestic violence related protection orders. Defendants would need to have ties to the tribe, and prosecuting tribal courts would have to guarantee certain rights for defendants.

Voting in favor of S 47, were the following members from the Navajo Nation congressional delegation: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. Voting no on the bill included Republican Sens. Orin Hatch and Mike Lee from Utah.

The Senate adopted an amendment to the bill, S-47, by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that would extend through 2017 the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The amendment would expand law enforcement grants for prosecuting trafficking crimes and criminalize confiscating passports or other immigration documents.

On Monday, the Senate rejected an amendment introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., stripping the tribal provisions, which give tribes more authority over non-Indian domestic violence offenders. The Senate rejected a similar proposal last week introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Tribal provisions will remain a contentious issue as House lawmakers introduce their own version of the domestic violence bill.

VAWA Senate Vote Tonight at 5:30 PM

At 5:30pm, there will be up to 7 roll call votes in relation to the following:

  • Leahy amendment the text of which is at the desk (sex trafficking)
  • Portman amendment #10 (sex trafficking)
  • Murkowski amendment #11 (tribal protections)
  • Coburn amendment #13 (strikes tribal provisions)
  • Coburn amendment #15 (consolidate DOJ rape programs)
  • Coburn amendment #16 (notice to victims)
  • Passage of S.47, the Violence Against Women Act, as amended, if amended.

Congressional Legislative Summary for This Week

House Floor

Tues., 6/5            Under Suspension of the Rules

  • H.R. 4222 – Pascua Yaqui Tribe Trust Land Act (Sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva / Natural Resources Committee)

Bill text at:

DOI testimony at:

  • S. 292 – Salmon Lake Land Selection Resolution Act (Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski / Natural Resources Committee)

Bill text at:

DOI testimony at: Continue reading

ICT Coverage of Senate Report on Carcieri


An excerpt:

The report says that the decision sent “shockwaves” through Indian country “in great part because the record on which the Supreme Court based its interpretation of section 19 of the IRA was noticeably incomplete.” It adds that the decision undermines the intent of the IRA, threatens public safety and law enforcement, and impedes economic development, while increasing costly tribal and federal litigation.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, said in an accompanying view issued within the report that he concurs with most of Akaka’s views regarding the effects of the decision of and the purposes of the IRA, although he said he recognizes there to be other “good faith” understandings of the Supreme Court’s rationale.

“For my part, I do not claim to know enough about the government’s internal deliberations and legal strategies in the Carcieri case to say that there were deliberate or even careless omissions from the record presented to the Supreme Court,” Barrasso says. “But whether that happened or not is ‘water under the bridge’ and therefore much less important than the consequences of the decision itself.”

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