Trump Administration Lifts Hiring Freeze; Directs Agencies to Submit Workforce Restructuring Plans

Trump Administration Lifts Hiring Freeze; Directs Agencies to Submit Workforce Restructuring Plans

The White House has announced that the federal hiring freeze put into place at the beginning of the Trump administration will be lifted. The freeze temporarily halted all non-military federal hiring, in an attempt to fulfill the Trump campaign promise to “drain the swamp” and reduce the size of government.

The lifting of the freeze does not, however, mean that agencies will be given the latitude to fill any and all positions. The across the board freeze is instead being replaced by what the Administration is calling “a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.” The Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance ordering federal departments and agencies to “begin taking immediate actions” to reduce the size of their workforces over the long-term. Agency heads must develop a plan to “maximize employee performance” by June 30 and submit a final version of that plan to the White House budget office by September.

The ability of agencies to fill positions and maintain program staff will also be largely dependent on the budgets passed by Congress for the remainder of FY2017 and for FY2018.

March 29th, 2017 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Living

March 29th, 2017 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Living

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled an oversight hearing titled, “Native Youth: Promoting Diabetes Prevention Through Healthy Living.”

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, March 29th, at 2:30 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 a list will be posted on the Committee’s website once confirmed. The record will be open for two weeks following the hearing for written comments. A 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://www.indian.senate.gov/.

House Committees Pass AHCA

House Committees Pass AHCA

Last week, after marathon markup sessions where over 100 amendments were considered, the House Energy & Commerce and the House Ways & Means Committees passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) along party line votes. Unified in opposition to the AHCA, Democrats attempted to amend or at least slow down consideration of the bill, but Republicans were able to defeat each of these amendments and advance the bill through the Committees. The AHCA will now be considered this Wednesday by the House Budget Committee, where again it is expected that Democrats will try to amend or at least slow down consideration of the bill. House Republican leadership has been determined to bring the bill to the House floor before the end of March in an attempt to give the Senate time to consider the bill before the Senate and House recess for two weeks starting April 7.

House and Senate to hold Committee Hearings Next Week

House and Senate to hold Committee Hearings Next Week

Next week, both the House and Senate have scheduled oversight hearings focused on forward progress in Indian country.

On March 8, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee (SCIA) will hold a hearing titled “Identifying Indian Affairs priorities for the Trump Administration” at 2:30 PM in 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building. The witness list has not yet been released.

On March 9, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs (IIANA) will hold a hearing focused on improving and expanding infrastructure in tribal and insular communities. The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 AM in 1324 Longworth House Office Building. The witness list has not yet been released.

Both hearings will be broadcast live on the internet and archived video will be available shortly after the hearings conclude. The SCIA website can be found here and the IIANA website can be found here.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Approve Zinke Nomination

Bipartisan Group of Senators Approve Zinke Nomination

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, the U.S. Senate by a 68-31 vote, approved President Trump’s nomination of Ryan Zinke to serve as Secretary of the Interior. Fifteen Democrats and one Independent joined 52 Republicans to support the nomination.

Secretary Zinke will now begin forming his team at the Interior Department. Indian Country will closely watch the appointments for the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and the Interior Solicitor (top attorney for DOI), both of which require U.S. Senate confirmation.

The Interior Secretary will also play a role in President Trump’s nominations to serve on the National Indian Gaming Commission (the NIGC Chair requires Senate approval, the two Commissioners are appointed by the Secretary without approval) as well as the Special Trustee for American Indians.

Tribes will also monitor other Interior positions that require Senate confirmation, including the Interior Department’s Deputy Secretary; Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Asst. Sec. for Land & Minerals Management; Asst. Sec. for Policy Management & Budget; Asst. Sec. for Water & Science; Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation; Director of the Bureau of Land Management; Director of the National Park Service; Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement; Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Director of the U.S. Geological Survey; and Inspector General.

Indian Health Service (IHS) Announces Rear Admiral (RADM) Chris Buchanan to serve as Acting Director

Indian Health Service (IHS) Announces Rear Admiral (RADM) Chris Buchanan to serve as Acting Director

The Indian Health Service recently announced that RADM Chris Buchanan will serve as Acting Director of the IHS. Buchanan previously served as the IHS Deputy Director and will serve in the role of Acting Director until a Director is appointed. He is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. For more information about the agency or RADM Buchanan, please visit: https://www.ihs.gov or https://www.ihs.gov/aboutihs/includes/themes/newihstheme/display_objects/documents/bios/BuchananChris.pdf.

January 17th – Nomination Hearing of the Honorable Ryan Zinke to be the Secretary of the Interior

January 17th – Nomination Hearing of the Honorable Ryan Zinke to be the Secretary of the Interior

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has announced that it will be holding a hearing to consider the nomination of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) to be the Secretary of the Interior. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 17th, at 10:00 a.m. EST in Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The hearing will be webcast live on the Committee’s website and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing is finished. Witness testimony will also be available on the website at the start of the hearing.

For more information about the hearing or the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, please visit: http://www.energy.senate.gov/.

December 7th, 2016 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Land Buy-Back Program for Tribes

December 7th, 2016 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Land Buy-Back Program for Tribes

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled an oversight hearing to examine the Department of the Interior’s Land Buy-Back program for Tribal Nations. A link to the program at the Department can be found here: https://www.doi.gov/buybackprogram, which includes additional information and a copy of the 2016 Status Report.

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, December 7th, 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 a list will be posted on the Committee’s website once confirmed. The record will be open for two weeks following the hearing for written comments. A 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://www.indian.senate.gov/

Congress in Discussions to Pass Short-Term Continuing Resolution; Fund the Government Until March 2017

Congress in Discussions to Pass Short-Term Continuing Resolution; Fund the Government Until March 2017

Today, House Congressional leaders announced that they will seek to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for FY17. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers noted that any CR would provide funding until March 31, 2017.
A CR maintains the current funding level for federal agencies, with no increases or decreases that may have been included during the appropriations process.

By waiting until early next year, the GOP Congress will have more leverage under the Trump administration to get spending priorities and policy riders into law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is less enthusiastic about the prospect of delaying federal funding decisions, as the Senate will have time consuming judicial and cabinet confirmations to contend with at the beginning of 2017.

Senate Democrats Announce Leadership Positions for the 115th Congress

Senate Democrats Announce Leadership Positions for the 115th Congress

Today, the Senate Democratic Caucus announced leadership and ranking member positions for the 115th Congress. As expected, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will serve as Democratic Minority Leader, the position formerly held by retiring Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).

Senator Schumer added leadership posts for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to ensure that working class Americans have a voice in Senate Democratic leadership.

There are a number of changes to the Ranking Member positions in the various Committees. Of importance to Indian Country is the rise of Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) to serve as Ranking Member for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (taking over for Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) who moves to serve as Ranking for the Veterans Affairs Committee). In addition, Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) will assume the role of Ranking Member for the Appropriations Committee, taking the helm from retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

The full list of Democratic leadership and committee appointments for the 115th Congress are posted below.

115th Congress:

Senate Democratic Leader and Chair of the Conference: Senator Charles Schumer

Democratic Whip: Senator Dick Durbin

Assistant Democratic Leader: Senator Patty Murray

Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee: Senator Debbie Stabenow

Vice Chair of the Conference: Senator Elizabeth Warren

Vice Chair of the Conference: Senator Mark Warner

Chair of Steering Committee: Senator Amy Klobuchar

Chair of Outreach: Senator Bernie Sanders

Vice Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee: Senator Joe Manchin

Senate Democratic Conference Secretary: Senator Tammy Baldwin

The committee ranking members for the 115th Congress:

Agriculture: Senator Debbie Stabenow

Armed Services: Senator Jack Reed

Appropriations: Senator Patrick Leahy

Banking: Senator Sherrod Brown

Budget: Senator Bernie Sanders

Commerce: Senator Bill Nelson

Energy: Senator Maria Cantwell

EPW: Senator Tom Carper

Finance: Senator Ron Wyden

Foreign Relations: Senator Ben Cardin

HELP: Senator Patty Murray

HSGAC: Senator Claire McCaskill

Indian Affairs: Senator Tom Udall

Judiciary: Senator Dianne Feinstein

Rules: Senator Amy Klobuchar

Small Business: Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Veterans Affairs: Senator Jon Tester

Aging: Senator Bob Casey

Ethics: Senator Chris Coons

Intelligence: Senator Mark Warner

JEC: Senator Martin Heinrich