Senate Advances Biden Priorities on Infrastructure and Social Safety Net >>

August 11th, 2021

Senate Advances Biden Priorities on Infrastructure and Social Safety Net

Yesterday, the United States Senate passed President Biden’s $550 billion “Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act” by a wide bipartisan margin of 69 – 30. The bill includes more than $11 billion for infrastructure investments in Indian country, including:

  • $3.5 billion for Tribal health sanitation facilities construction;
  • $3 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Tribal Transportation Program;
  • $2.5 billion to address congressionally approved Indian water settlements;
  • Provides an additional $2 billion for the Commerce Department’s NTIA Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program;
  • $260 million for the BIA’s Road Maintenance Program$100 million set aside for Tribal bridge
  • projects through the new Bridge Investment Program;
  • $150 million for the Tribal High Priority Projects Program within the Tribal Transportation Program;
  • $250 million for the Indian Reservation Safe Drinking Water Program;
  • $216 million for Tribal Climate Resilience, including $130 million for the relocation to higher ground of Tribal communities at risk,
  • $86 million for Tribal climate resilience and adaption projects;
  • Tribal governments are eligible for a number of other programs, including a portion of $500 million to implement the Tribal Forest Protection Act and related activities to prevent wildfires on Indian forestlands and rangelands;
  • The bill also establishes an Assistant Secretary for Tribal Government Affairs within the Department of Transportation (Presidential appointment, but not Senate confirmed).

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will now head to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Immediately after passing the Infrastructure bill, the Senate began debate on the $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which will serve as the framework for Democrat’s priorities to expand social safety net programs. At 4:00 am this morning, after 14 hours of votes on amendments, the Senate passed the non-binding Budget Resolution along party lines 50-49. While the budget resolution does not get signed into law, it is the first step towards bypassing the 60-vote threshold in the Senate to begin the “Reconciliation” process.

The Reconciliation package is expected to garner only Democratic support. House and Senate leaders will draft the legislation in consultation with the White House in the coming weeks.

Senate confirms Newland to serve as Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs >>

August 9th, 2021

Senate confirms Newland to serve as Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs

On Saturday, the Senate confirmed Mr. Bryan Todd Newland, of Michigan, to serve as Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. Newland is the Department of the Interior’s Highest-Ranking Senate-confirmed Official in Indian Affairs. Prior to his confirmation, Newland served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs.

Newland is a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community (Ojibwe), where he recently completed his tenure as Tribal President. Prior to that, Bryan served as Chief Judge of the Bay Mills Tribal Court. From 2009 to 2012, he served as a Counselor and Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Michigan State University College of Law.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued the following statement upon Senate confirmation of Mr. Newland:

“Mr. Newland has invaluable experience as a Tribal Leader, personal and in-depth knowledge of the issues facing Tribes, expertise in complex areas of Federal Indian law, an understanding of Interior’s unique role in fulfilling and enforcing the federal trust responsibility to Native peoples, and a diplomatic and respectful approach to honoring Tribal sovereignty,” said Chairman Schatz. “It is clear from the record that Mr. Newland has the qualifications to succeed in this role, and to serve this country with honor as one of the chief federal advocates for American Indians, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives.”

Rep. Haaland Confirmed as Interior Secretary >>

March 15th, 2021

Rep. Haaland Confirmed as Interior Secretary

This evening, the Senate voted to confirm Representative Debra Haaland (D-NM) to be the Secretary of Interior. Rep. Haaland is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo. Haaland’s confirmation is historic, as she will be the first Native American Interior secretary as well as the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

The Senate voted 51 – 40 to confirm, with most Republicans voting against her after several called her views on public land use and fossil fuels extreme. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined all Democrats in voting to confirm.

Rep. Haaland will be giving her farewell speech on the floor of the House of Representatives tomorrow afternoon sometime between 12:00 pm – 2:00 PM ET.

Biden American Rescue Plan will Deliver $31 Billion to Indian Country >>

March 9th, 2021

Biden American Rescue Plan will Deliver $31 Billion to Indian Country:
Work on Implementation to Begin Immediately

The U.S. House of Representatives will pass the American Rescue Plan (ARP) either late today or early tomorrow and send it to President Biden for his signature this week. The ARP will deliver more than $31 billion to Tribal Governments to help address the significant health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The largest program in the bill sends $20 billion to Tribes through the renamed Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds (formerly the CARES Act – Coronavirus Relief Fund). Indian Tribes are defined as the governing body of a tribe included in the BIA’s annually published Federally Recognized Indian Tribes List. The use of these funds will be more flexible than the CRF funding under the CARES Act, and provide more time to utilize the funds.

The ARP also provides more than $6 billion for Indian health care programs and services, increased funding for Indian education, housing, food distribution, child care, preservation of Native languages, funding to enable Tribes to establish guaranteed loan programs in coordination with CDFIs, and more.

These resources will come to Tribes through a number of federal agencies, including the Treasury Department, the IHS, the BIA and BIE, USDA, HUD, and others. We expect that the Biden Administration will begin scheduling consultations on the implementation of the ARP in the coming days.

Senate to Begin Debate on Revised American Rescue Plan Today >>

March 4th, 2021

Senate to Begin Debate on Revised American Rescue Plan Today

As reported earlier this week, the House passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan early Saturday morning (February 27th). The bill is now under consideration in the U.S. Senate, where procedural rules required amendments to the House-passed bill, most notably the removal of a provision to gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $15/hour over 4 years.

The Senate released the revised package and will begin debate today. While we continue to review the Senate package, we are glad to report that most of the tribal provisions included in the House-passed bill have been retained in the Senate bill.

Importantly, the package includes $20 billion to tribal governments through the renamed Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds (formerly the CARES Act – Coronavirus Relief Fund). Indian Tribes are defined as the governing body of a tribe included on the annually published pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act. The “lost revenue” provision for “use of funds” has been revised but retained. In addition, the bill provides over $6B for the Indian Health Service and other health care activities. The bill also includes additional funding for Indian education, housing, food distribution, child care, and more.

The Senate is expected to complete debate on the bill this weekend. If the package makes it through the Senate, the revised bill will return to the House for final passage. Congressional Democrats are working to complete debate on the final bill by Sunday, March 14th when unemployment benefits begin to expire.

Senate ENR Committee to Hold Vote on Haaland Nomination >>

March 2nd, 2021

Senate ENR Committee to Hold Vote on Haaland Nomination

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) has announced that it will move forward with Rep. Haaland’s nomination for Secretary of the Interior on Thursday, March 4 at 10:00 AM. ENR Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) recently indicated he will support Haaland’s nomination, which is a strong sign she will have the necessary support in the Committee to move forward. Once ENR votes Haaland “out of Committee,” her nomination will be eligible for a vote by the full Senate.

More details can be found on the ENR website HERE

Interior Department Appoints Bryan Newland to Serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs >>

February 23rd, 2021

Interior Department Appoints Bryan Newland to Serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs

The Department of the Interior today announced additional members of the agency leadership team, including Bryan Newland for Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs (ASIA).

Bryan Newland is a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community (Ojibwe), where he recently completed his tenure as Tribal President. Prior to that, Bryan served as Chief Judge of the Bay Mills Tribal Court. From 2009 to 2012, he served as a Counselor and Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior – Indian Affairs. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Michigan State University College of Law. Bryan enjoys hiking and kayaking the shores of Lake Superior, and is a nature photography enthusiast.

The agency also announced Daniel Cordalis will serve as the Deputy Solicitor for Water. Daniel has more than a decade of experience working on natural resource and complex water and land management issues on behalf of Tribal governments and conservation groups. Daniel most recently worked in private practice. He previously was an attorney with Earthjustice, the Yurok Tribe, and clerked for the Colorado Supreme Court and the Native American Rights Fund. After graduating from Rice University, Daniel received a M.A. focused on hydrology and a J.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Raised in southwest Colorado, Daniel is a Navajo Tribal member and lives with his family outside Arcata, California.

The agency also issued the following statement:

“As we work to advance President Biden’s vision for a clean energy future that creates good-paying jobs, protects the environment, and powers our nation, we are thrilled to welcome our newest teammates. The diverse experiences of our staff will help us address the four intersecting challenges that the president has made a priority for his administration: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change — all of which disproportionately impact Tribal communities with whom we have a critical trust responsibility,”

Senate ENR Committee Schedules Haaland Nomination Hearing >>

February 17th, 2021

Senate ENR Committee Schedules Haaland Nomination Hearing

Today, The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources announced the hearing on the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior will be held on Tuesday, February 23, at 9:30 AM ET.

Members of the committee can participate in person or online. The hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website, and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing is complete. Witness testimony will be available on the website at the start of the hearing.

Biden’s First 30 Executive Actions >>

January 25th, 2021

Biden’s First 30 Executive Actions

In his first days in office, President Biden has issued 30 executive orders, presidential memoranda, and agency directives, primarily focused on addressing the coronavirus pandemic and undoing some of former President Donald Trump’s actions.

Today, Biden will sign a “Buy American” order aimed at boosting American manufacturing, setting in motion a process to fulfill his campaign pledge to strengthen the federal government’s rules and to close existing supply chain loopholes. Biden is also expected to sign more executive orders in the coming days related to policing reforms, the suspension of oil and gas lease sales on federal lands, and on healthcare reforms related to the Affordable Care Act.

Below is a compilation of the executive actions taken thus far.

January 22

  • Economy: Restores collective bargaining power and worker protections for federal workers, and lays the foundation for $15 minimum wage.
  • Economy: Calls for assistance to those who are struggling to buy food, missed out on stimulus checks, or are unemployed.

January 21

  • Coronavirus: Accelerates manufacturing and delivery of supplies for vaccination, testing, and Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Coronavirus: Directs FEMA to expand reimbursement to states to fully cover the cost for National Guard personnel and emergency supplies.
  • Coronavirus: Establishes the Pandemic Testing Board to expand US coronavirus testing capacity.
  • Coronavirus: Establishes a preclinical program to boost the development of therapeutics in response to pandemic threats.
  • Coronavirus: Enhances the nation’s collection, production, sharing, and analysis of coronavirus data.
  • Coronavirus: Directs FEMA to create federally-supported community vaccination centers.
  • Coronavirus: Directs the Department of Education and HHS to provide guidance for safely reopening and operating schools, childcare providers, and institutions of higher education.
  • Coronavirus: Calls on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to release clear guidance on Covid-19, decide whether to establish emergency temporary standards, and directs OSHA to enforce worker health and safety requirements.
  • Coronavirus: Requires mask-wearing in airports and on certain modes of transportation, including many trains, airplanes, maritime vessels, and intercity buses. International travelers must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to coming to the US.
  • Coronavirus: Creates the Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force to help ensure an equitable pandemic response and recovery.
  • Coronavirus: A presidential directive to restore America’s leadership, support the international pandemic response effort, promote resilience for future threats and advance global health security and the Global Health Security Agenda.

January 20

  • Coronavirus: Launches a “100 Days Masking Challenge” asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days. Requires masks and physical distancing in federal buildings, on federal lands, and by government contractors, and urges states and local governments to do the same.
  • Coronavirus: Stops the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization, with Dr. Anthony Fauci becoming the head of the delegation to the WHO.
  • Coronavirus: Creates the position of Covid-19 Response Coordinator, reporting directly to Biden and managing efforts to produce and distribute vaccines and medical equipment.
  • Economy: Extends the existing nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until at least March 31.
  • Economy: Extends the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for Americans with federal student loans until at least September 30.
  • Environment: Rejoins the Paris climate accord, a process that will take 30 days.
  • Environment: Cancels the Keystone XL pipeline and directs agencies to review and reverse more than 100 Trump actions on the environment.
  • Equity: Rescinds the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, directs agencies to review their actions to ensure racial equity.
  • Equity: Prevents workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Census: Requires non-citizens to be included in the Census and apportionment of congressional representatives.
  • Immigration: Fortifies DACA after Trump’s efforts to undo protections for undocumented people brought into the country as children.
  • Immigration: Reverses the Trump administration’s restrictions on US entry for passport holders from seven Muslim-majority countries.
  • Immigration: Undoes Trump’s expansion of immigration enforcement within the United States.
  • Immigration: Halts construction of the border wall by terminating the national emergency declaration used to fund it.
  • Immigration: Extends deferrals of deportation and work authorizations for Liberians with a safe haven in the United States until June 30, 2022.
  • Ethics: Requires executive branch appointees to sign an ethics pledge barring them from acting in personal interest and requiring them to uphold the independence of the Department of Justice.
  • Regulations: Directs OMB director to develop recommendations to modernize regulatory review and undoes Trump’s regulatory approval process.

Biden Signs 17 Executive Orders on First Day in Office >>

January 21st, 2021

Biden Signs 17 Executive Orders on First Day in Office

On his first day in office, President Biden signed 17 executive orders touching on a variety of pressing national issues. Below is a summary of those executive orders. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also noted that “In the coming days and weeks we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the President-elect’s promises to the American people, including revoking the ban on military service by transgender Americans, and reversing the Mexico City policy.”

COVID-19

  • Start a “100 Days Masking Challenge.” The order calls for a nationwide face mask and social distancing mandate in federal buildings, on federal lands, and by federal employees and contractors.
  • Restructure federal government coordination to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden White House is bringing back an Obama-era position called the “Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense,” which was organized with additional staff within the National Security Council after the 2014 Ebola epidemic. This directorate office was dispersed into other roles during the Trump administration, but Biden and his campaign advisers argued the move decreased the preparedness of the federal government for the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Biden will also formally implement a “response coordinator” who will report to the president on vaccine, testing and personal protective equipment production, supply, and distribution. Mr. Biden has appointed Jeff Zients, who has been overseeing Mr. Biden’s COVID-19 team for the presidential transition.
  • Rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO). The Trump administration was in the process of leaving at the end of his term. Mr. Biden is also looking to re-establish the U.S. as an active leader at the WHO.

Financial Relief for Americans

  • Extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums. Biden has tasked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to re-implement and extend the already defunct moratorium until at least March 31. Biden has also directed the Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs to extend the foreclosure moratoriums for their federally backed mortgages.
  • Continue “pause” on student loan payments until September 30. The Biden advisers also note the President still supports his campaign pledge to cancel $10,000 of student loans, but this will take time as it has to go through Congress.

Environment

  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. This will take 30 days to go into effect.
  • End Keystone XL pipeline and revoke oil and gas development at national wildlife monuments. The Biden administration will discard or redo more than 100 “harmful” presidential proclamations, memoranda, or permits signed by the Trump administration that the new administration views as detrimental to the environment. Mr. Biden also will reverse the 2020 decision by the Trump administration to allow land development at the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah and at the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine national monuments in New England, which were set aside for wildlife protection by former President Obama in 2016. Other changes include directing agencies to “consider revising vehicle fuel economic and emissions standards” and placing federal working groups to deal with greenhouse gases, according to an outline of the executive orders.

Human rights

  • Actions to advance racial equity through the federal government. Every federal agency will review equity in their programs and actions. For example, with this executive action, the Office of Management and Budget will analyze if federal money is equitably distributed in communities of color and other places of need. Trump’s “harmful” 1776 Commission, the 18-member board he formulated in September, will be disbanded.
  • Count non-citizens in U.S. Census again. This reverses President Trump’s order in July 2020 to not count undocumented Americans, which would impact the allocation of federal funds and Congressional representation.
  • Strengthen workplace discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. At agencies, this broadens the federal protections against sex discrimination to include LGBTQ Americans.

Immigration

  • Defend “Dreamers” program for undocumented young Americans. Mr. Biden calls on Congress to grant permanent status and a path to citizenship to Dreamers — almost a million undocumented young people who were brought to the country as children and shielded from deportation by President Obama. The Trump administration challenged the law but the Supreme Court upheld it.
  • End so-called “Muslim travel ban.” The 2017 order restricted travel and immigration to the U.S. from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, before adding Eritrea, Nigeria, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania in 2020. The State Department is also instructed to restart visa applications for these countries.
  • Change Trump’s arrest priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This executive order repeals the changes Mr. Trump made in the first week of his presidency in 2017 to make interior immigration enforcement much stricter.
  • Stop border wall construction. Mr. Biden will end the national emergency declaration cited by the Trump administration to divert money to the building of the southern wall.
  • Keep protections for a group of Liberians in the country. Liberians who have been in the United States for many years will be able to remain longer. Their “deferred enforcement departure” will be extended an additional year, until June 30, 2022. President Trump briefly considered ending this deferment before ultimately extending the program.

Regulation

  • Freezing last-minute Trump administration regulatory actions. Mr. Biden issued a freeze on all new regulations put in motion by his predecessor to give his administration time to evaluate which ones it wants to move forward. The memorandum is aimed at preventing so-called midnight regulations, policies pushed through by a lame-duck president unconstrained by electoral considerations.

Ethics

  • Executive Branch ethics doctrine. Mr. Biden wants every executive branch appointee to sign an ethics pledge. The pledge also demands federal employees promise “to uphold the independence of the Department of Justice,” the executive order outline states.