March 1st, 2012, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Roundtable on Protecting Our Ancestral Remains, Religious Freedoms, and Sacred Places

March 1st, 2012, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Roundtable on Protecting Our Ancestral Remains, Religious Freedoms, and Sacred Places

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled a Committee Roundtable on Protecting Our Ancestral Remains, Religious Freedoms, and Sacred Places. The roundtable is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 1st, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The Committee is interested in hearing about the challenges, solutions, and successes in protecting our ancestral remains, religious freedoms, and sacred places.

To RSVP for this event please contact Christiane Cardoza at 202-224-2251 or email at roundtable@indian.senate.gov. For more information about the roundtable or the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, please visit: http://indian.senate.gov/

IRS Extends Comment Period on General Welfare Exclusion for Tribal Government Programs

IRS Extends Comment Period on General Welfare Exclusion for Tribal Government Programs

From the IRS News Release:
IR-2012-19, Feb. 13, 2012

WASHINGTON — The IRS is extending the time limit for commenting on guidance the agency issued regarding the application of the general welfare exclusion to Indian tribal government programs. Comments may now be submitted through March 14, 2012.

On Nov. 15, 2011, the IRS issued Notice 2011-94, which requested that comments be provided by February 13. The guidance solicits comments regarding the application of the exclusion to Indian tribal government programs such as:

• Housing (for example, programs providing housing on and off the reservation, with income limits different from those of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development);
• Cultural (for example, programs involving tours of sites that are historically significant to a tribe; language preservation programs; community recreational programs; cultural and social events);
• Education (for example, programs providing tutors or supplies to primary and secondary school students; job retraining programs for adults); and
• Elder programs (for example, programs providing heating assistance or meals).

Comments now may be submitted in writing on or before March 14, 2012. Comments should be submitted to Internal Revenue Service, CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2011-94), Room 5203, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044, or electronically to Notice.Comments@irscounsel.treas.gov.

Please include “Notice 2011-94” in the subject line of any electronic communications. Alternatively, comments may be hand delivered between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday to CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2011-94), Courier’s Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

All comments will be available for public inspection and copying.

Transportation Reauthorization Moving Forward But Deal Still Looks Unlikely

Transportation Reauthorization Moving Forward But Deal Still Looks Unlikely

With the current authorization of transportation programs set to expire March 31st, both the Senate and House have been moving fast to consider their respective transportation reauthorization bills on the floor. The Senate started consideration of their bill the week of February 13th, but quickly got bogged down with over 220 amendments currently filed to the bill. The Senate will resume consideration of the bill the week of February 27th, but without an agreement to limit the number of amendments, the bill will not move to a final vote.

In the House, leadership chose to break up the bill into different parts with separate bills for the reauthorization of transportation programs and the funding of those programs. The House passed the funding portions of the bill during the week of February 13th, but did not get to the consideration of the reauthorization bill. It is expected that the reauthorization bill will be considered the week of February 27th. However, there is some concern that a majority does not support the current bill and that a shorter-term bill may replace the current House version.

Perhaps of even greater concern to the final passage of a transportation reauthorization is the considerable difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Not only do the bills differ in terms of years and cost (5 years/$260B in the House vs. 2 years/$109B in the Senate), but they also differ substantially in how the programs are funded.

If Congress is unable to come to agreement on a longer-term reauthorization by the end of March, then they will be forced to once again extend the current authorization.

President Sends Congress FY13 Budget Request

President Sends Congress FY13 Budget Request

On Monday, February 13th, President Obama submitted his budget request to Congress. The budget calls for $3.8 trillion in total spending in FY 13, a slight increase over the FY 12 enacted levels.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs budget requests $2.53B in total spending, a slight decrease from the previous year. Yet, except for education construction ($18M decrease), most BIA programs saw increases in the budget, including an $11.7M increase for the Operation of Indian Programs.
The Indian Health Service budget request includes a substantial increase of $116M to bring the total funding for the IHS to $4.42B. Most notably, Contract Health Services received a $54M increase.

Over the next several weeks, both the authorizing committees and the appropriations committees will hold budget hearings on specific agency budgets to have the administration present and defend their budget. During this period, congressional committees will also be looking for input from outside of the government, including input from tribal leaders.