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House Appropriations Committee Adopts McCollum-Cole Amendment on Tribal Justice Funding

July 13, 2017
Press Release

The House Appropriations Committee today adopted an amendment offered by Representatives Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) that protects tribal nations across the country from a drastic cut to their criminal and civil justice funds.

“As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to meet the safety and justice needs of tribal nations. This amendment ensures that we restore the dedicated funding for tribal justice systems and permit tribal nations to be part of the substantial increase this bill creates for the Crime Victims Fund,” Representative McCollum said. “I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, especially my Congressional Native American Caucus co-chair Representative Tom Cole, for working with me on this important amendment.”

The McCollum-Cole Amendment, which modifies language in the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill, passed on a voice vote.

“It is sad, but true, that Indian country has some of the highest crime rates in America‎. Representative McCollum's amendment is an effort to make sure the federal government and the Justice Department do more to fulfill their responsibility to combat crime and protect victims in Indian country. Further, the five percent funding directive for the Crime Victims Fund ensures that tribal members receive quality support in crime recovery,” Representative Cole said. “I’m proud to work with my colleague Representative McCollum to safeguard our tribal communities and defend their right to have quality law enforcement and judicial protection.”

To help tribal nations better meet challenges and strengthen their justice systems, both the Obama and Trump administrations proposed that Indian Country grants throughout Department of Justice be consolidated into a flexible seven percent set-aside. In the fiscal year 2017 omnibus appropriations bill, however, tribal nations were subjected to a misguided, last-minute change in that language. That resulted in a 40 percent cut to tribal justice funds compared to fiscal year 2016. The McCollum-Cole Amendment corrects that mistake. It restores funding for tribal justice systems to its previous average levels by ensuring that the seven percent set-aside includes the justice assistance grant and opioid addiction and recovery programs.

The amendment also allocates five percent of the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) for tribal governments. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence submitted a letter to the House Appropriations Committee supporting this five percent set-aside, showing the broad support among victims advocate groups for allowing tribal nations to have access to the high-quality recovery services the Crime Victims Fund supports.