Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester spoke on the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday urging his colleagues to pass a handful of federal bills aimed at addressing what’s been called a crisis of missing and murdered Native American women and girls.
"Now this bill directs the GAO [Government Accountability Office] to conduct a full review of how federal agencies respond to reports of missing and murdered Native Americans and recommends solutions based on their findings," Tester said.
Tester introduced the Studying the Missing and Murdered Indian Epidemic Act of 2019 in February. Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines is a co-sponsor. Now they’re part of a bipartisan, bicameral group asking the Government Accountability Office to move forward with the review as the authorizing bill makes its way through Congress.
The Canadian government recently wrapped up a similar study that sought to quantify the number of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls and suggest ways to overhaul government institutions to address the problem.
The 3-year National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will release its final report and recommendations in June. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports the nearly $54 million inquiry heard testimony from more than 1,000 survivors, family members and experts over the course of 24 hearings.
On the Senate floor Tuesday Tester also called on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and pass Savanna’s Act, which would direct federal law enforcement agencies to better share missing persons data, and the Not Invisible Act, which would direct the Interior Department to create an advisory committee on reducing violent crime against Native people.