Cantwell, Colleagues Advance Legislation to Provide Crime Victim Funding, Services to Native Communities

SURVIVE Act would set aside 5 percent of Crime Victims Fund for Tribal victims assistance programs, provide Tribes flexibility to meet community, cultural needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the U.S. Senate continues its push to address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native women, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs today unanimously passed legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a former chair of the committee, to provide a substantial increase in resources for Tribal crime victim assistance programs.

The Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act would require 5 percent of the funding from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) be provided to Indian Tribes through grant programs. In recent years, despite high need in Tribal communities, less than 1 percent of CVF funds have reached Native victims. The CVF, which is funded by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, provided up to $4.4 billion to victims in Fiscal Year 2018.

“Individuals on Tribal lands experience high rates of domestic and sexual violence, and resources from the Crime Victims Fund are critical in addressing Tribal victims’ needs,” Senator Cantwell said. “I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to make sure we provide enough funding to serve Native American victims of crime.” 

Under the SURVIVE Act, Tribes in Washington state and throughout the country will be able to apply for funding for victim assistance programs. Individual Tribal grantees will have the flexibility to use their funding for programs that best serve the needs of their communities. Programs could include domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling services, legal assistance, and child and elder abuse programs.

The SURVIVE Act was introduced by U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and, in addition to Senator Cantwell, is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), John Barrasso (R-WY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The passage of the legislation through committee comes one day after Cantwell and several of her Senate colleagues reintroduced Savanna’s Act to better respond to cases of missing and murdered Native women and girls.