United States Senate Confirms Tara Sweeney as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs

United States Senate Confirms Tara Sweeney as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs

Yesterday, the United States Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Tara Sweeney from Alaska to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND) provided the following statement regarding Sweeney’s confirmation: “The Senate’s confirmation of Ms. Sweeney is an important step to help ensure Indian Country has a strong leader and advocate at the Interior Department. Ms. Sweeney will be a powerful voice for Indian nations as she supports Secretary Zinke in upholding tribal sovereignty, promoting Native American self-determination and carrying out the federal government’s trust responsibility to Indian tribes and Indians.”

The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs develops Interior Department policy on Indian affairs related issues and administers programs for Indian education, public safety, economic development, energy development, and federal recognition of tribes. Ms. Sweeney will oversee the agencies that carry out these functions, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education.

Senate Passes Bipartisan Farm Bill

Senate Passes Bipartisan Farm Bill

This evening, the Senate passed their version of the farm bill by a vote of 86-11. The bill will now go to a conference committee to reconcile differences with the House’s version of the legislation.

The treatment of the SNAP program (commonly known as food stamps) is the biggest difference between the House and Senate bills. The House version contains increased work requirements for SNAP recipients, while the Senate bill does not. There are also some differences in the farm subsidy caps and conservation initiatives. The issues surrounding SNAP will be the largest hurdle to overcome in the conference. The current Farm Bill expires September 30th.

Senate Agriculture Committee Releases 2018 Farm Bill

Senate Agriculture Committee Releases 2018 Farm Bill

On Friday, the Senate Agriculture Committee released the base text of their 2018 Farm Bill. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is over 1,000 pages long and includes numerous provisions of interest to Indian country.

On a broad level, there are no cuts to nutrition programs, and the SNAP work requirements included in the House bill are not included in the Senate text. While the legislation reauthorizes existing programs and creates numerous new ones, it is ultimately up to USDA to create the rules and guidelines for these programs should they be included in the final enacted bill.

The full text of the bill can be found here

The section-by-section prepared by the Ag Committee can be found here

The Senate Agriculture Committee is planning on holding a markup of the bill on Wednesday, June 13th and will consider any amendments at that time.

Senate Appropriations Committee to Markup FY19 Interior Appropriations Bill

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TO MARKUP FY19 INTERIOR APPROPRIATIONS BILL

The Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled a markup of the FY19 Interior Appropriations Bill on Tuesday, June 12th at 9:30am. The Interior Appropriations Bill provides funding for the Department of Interior, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Indian Health Service. The webcast for the markup will be audio only and can be accessed at: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings/subcommittee-markup-of-the-fy2019-interior-environment-and-related-agencies-appropriations-bill.

In addition, the Full Senate Appropriations Committee has scheduled a markup of the FY19 Interior Appropriations Bill on Thursday, June 14th at 10:30am. The webcast for the markup will be audio only and can be accessed at: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings/full-committee-markup-of-the-interior-cjs-and-legislative-branch-appropriations-bills-for-fy2019.

Historic Primary Win in New Mexico for Native American Candidate Deb Haaland

Historic Primary Win in New Mexico for Native American Candidate Deb Haaland

Deb Haaland has won the Democratic primary for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, putting her on track to become the first Native American woman elected to Congress. Deb is the former Chairwoman of the New Mexico Democratic Party, and is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna. She has also previously been a candidate for lieutenant governor and Chairwoman of the Laguna Development Corporation.

Haaland won the crowded Democratic primary with 40.6% of the vote. With her primary win, Deb Haaland will likely win the November general election and head to Washington, D.C. as the first Native American female Member of Congress. This is a historic moment for New Mexico and for Indian country.