November 29, 2012, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing on Reclaiming Native Identity

November 29, 2012, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing on Reclaiming Native Identity

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled a hearing on reclaiming Native identity. The hearing is titled “Reclaiming Our Image and Identity for the Next Seven Generations,” and it is scheduled to take place on Thursday, November 29th, at 2:15 p.m. EST in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Witnesses for live testimony are by invitation only and will include the following individuals:

Ms. Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman -Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN), Patton, CA
Mr. Andrew J. Lee, Trustee – The National Museum of the American Indian and Executive at Aetna Inc., Hartford, CT
Ms. Mary Kim Titla, Educator/Journalist – San Carlos, AZ
Mr. Sam McCracken, General Manager – Nike N7 Programs and Manager of the N7 Fund, Beaverton, OR
Accompanied by Mr. Chris Wondolowski – N7 Ambassador, San Ramon, CA
Ms. Tonantzin Carmelo, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award Nominated Actress, Los Angeles, CA

The record will be open for two weeks after the hearing for written comments.

The webcast of this hearing will be available on the scheduled hearing date on the Committee website. For more information about the hearing or the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, please visit: http://indian.senate.gov/

President Obama Announces 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference

President Obama Announces 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference

The White House announced today that President Obama will host the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior. Each federally recognized tribe is invited to send one representative to the conference, which will be held on December 5th, 2012. The is the fourth conference for the Obama Administration. Further details will be made available by the White House as they are finalized.

Prospects for Lame Duck

Prospects for Lame Duck

With the highly contentious 2012 elections nearly complete (seven congressional races remain too close to call), Congress and President Obama prepare for what could be a 5-week lame duck session that will convene on Wednesday, November 14th, to close out the 112th Congress.

Addressing the “Fiscal Cliff” will be the primary order of business during the lame duck. The fiscal cliff refers to the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and sequestration, which mandates drastic spending cuts to discretionary defense and domestic spending. The tax cuts are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012 and sequestration will go into effect on January 2, 2013. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warns that the U.S. economy will slide into a deep recession if nothing is done to address these issues. The re-election of President Obama and recent remarks of House and Senate leaderships suggest a possible effort toward a long-term solution or “grand bargain” on the deficit.

For Indian country, the impacts of sequestration would be devastating. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported that, if sequestration goes into effect, tribal budgets, including Indian health care and Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, will be cut by more than 8% in FY 2013. Tribal leaders have been working with House and Senate leaders to protect tribal programs from these drastic budget cuts.

Tribal leaders are also urging Congress to consider including tribal tax provisions in any tax reform package that is considered during the lame duck. A top tribal tax priority is the need to address the IRS’ discriminatory audits and practices to treat tribal government-provided benefits and services offered to tribal members as taxable income. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) is leading an effort to urge the Senate Finance Committee to include a broad tax exemption of tribal government-provided programs and services to tribal members in any tax reform package. Similarly, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, has signaled support for including tribal tax provisions in a tax reform package.

Additional top legislative priorities of Indian country during the lame duck include: legislation to address the Supreme Court’s attacks on tribal sovereignty in the 2009 Carcieri and 2012 Patchak cases; reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired on Sept. 30, 2011; the Farm Bill Reauthorization, which expired on Sept. 30, 2012; and protection of tribal rights in Internet gaming legislation.

2012 ELECTION RESULTS

2012 ELECTION RESULTS

President Barack Obama won a historic second term on Nov. 6th, 2012. The President’s win was decisive, sweeping the swing states, earning 332 electoral votes, and receiving more than 50% of the popular vote. He built his reelection on a similar coalition from 2008, winning a strong majority of women, minorities, youth, and working class voters. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney received 47.9% of the popular vote and 206 electoral votes.

There were some surprises in the House and Senate elections; however, the changes will not impact Congress as a whole. Democrats increased their numbers to retain control of the U.S. Senate, picking up 2 seats with a 53-45 majority (Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders will caucus with the Democrats while Maine Independent Senator-Elect Angus King has not indicated with which party he will caucus). Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives for the next two years for the 113th Congress. The current tally in the House shows a Republican majority of 234 to 194. Democratic candidates currently lead in all seven of the outstanding races that are too close to call.

While possible changes to the President’s Cabinet may lie ahead, it is certain that newly installed Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, will continue his work in developing priorities with tribal leaders for the Obama Administration’s second term.

In Congress, the retirement Senator Daniel Akaka, a tireless champion of Indian country and the only indigenous Member of the Senate, leaves open the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the 113th Congress. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, who won her third term in the U.S. Senate, is next in line for this position.

Finally, at least 80 new members of Congress will serve in the 113th Congress (2013-2014). This number includes 23 women legislators, 20 minority members of Congress, and 12 new members with prior military service. Indian country is gearing up to immediately meet with these new Members to inform them of tribal federal priorities in the coming session of Congress.