President Obama Establishes White House Council on Native American Affairs

President Obama Establishes White House Council on Native American Affairs

Earlier today, President Barack Obama released an Executive Order establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The Order recognizes a government-to-government relationship, as well as the unique legal and political relationship with federally recognized tribes.

The Order states that it, “establishes a national policy to ensure that the Federal Government engages in a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner, including by better carrying out its trust responsibilities. It continues by stating, “This policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations.”

The Council will be led by Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and will also include the heads different executive departments, federal agencies, and offices. Its mission is to coordinate policy matters impacting Native communities throughout the federal government. The Order states, “The Council shall work across executive departments, agencies, and offices to coordinate development of policy recommendations to support tribal self-governance and improve the quality of life for Native Americans, and shall coordinate the United States Government’s engagement with tribal governments and their communities.”

To read more on the full Executive Order, click here.

SCOTUS Rules Against Native Father in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

SCOTUS Rules Against Native Father in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (the Baby Veronica case), which involved a reading of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Court, in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito, ruled that ICWA does not prevent the termination of the parental rights of the Native biological father in this case. The Court limited the application of ICWA’s provisions that seek to prevent the involuntary termination of parental rights to an Indian child. However, the Court did not rule on the constitutionality of ICWA — and the Act remains in effect. The case is sent back to the South Carolina state courts to determine whether the father has custodial rights to Baby Veronica under other provisions of ICWA or other laws.

Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Breyer joined Alito to make up the majority.

Justices Thomas and Breyer issued concurring opinions.

Justices Scalia and Sotomayor wrote separate dissenting opinions. Sotomayor’s dissent was joined by Justice Ginsburg and Kagan, and by Justice Scalia in part.

July 10th Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Roundtable Discussion on Indian Education

July 10th Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Roundtable Discussion on Indian Education

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will be hosting a roundtable discussion on Indian Education on Wednesday, July 10th from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Committee is interested in hearing recommendations for improving educational opportunities for Indian students. They request that you contact the Committee to RSVP if you plan to attend this event, and to inform them if you have any particular issues you would like discussed at the roundtable.

Please contact:
By phone: Sarah Stiltner at 202-224-2251; or
E-mail: Roundtable@indian.senate.gov

For more information about the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs please visit: http://indian.senate.gov/

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies holds FY14 mark up, significantly cutting discretionary spending

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies holds FY14 mark up, significantly cutting discretionary spending

Yesterday the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies marked up the FY14 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Bill. Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham (R-IA) led the mark-up, and no amendments were offered. The next step is for the full House Appropriations Committee to act on the bill, which is tentatively scheduled for June 27th. If that does not happen, further action will not take place until sometime after the July 4th congressional recess.

The legislation includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies. In total, the bill provides $44.1 billion in discretionary spending – a reduction of $7.7 billion below the FY13 enacted level and $13.9 billion below the President’s budget request. This level is approximately $4.4 billion below the level caused by automatic sequestration cuts for these programs. The bill dictates appropriations funding for many important infrastructure programs, including the transportation directive MAP-21, funding for air traffic control and air safety, and Community Development Block Grants for housing initiatives.

This bill has been called a striking example of what’s become a genuinely historic rollback of domestic discretionary spending. Sequestration brought the first across-the-board budget cuts in March, narrowing appropriations down to $984 billion. The second round of cuts this winter could take discretionary spending down to $967 billion. House Republicans are also proposing to shift about $54 billion from domestic programs to defense-related spending.