March 20th, 2018 – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing on FY19 Budget >>

March 16th, 2018

March 20th, 2018 – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing on FY19 Budget

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs (Subcommittee) has scheduled an oversight hearing titled, “Policy Priorities for the Administration’s FY 2019 Budget for Indian Affairs and Insular Areas,” which will take place on Tuesday, March 20th at 10:30 am, in room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Witnesses for live testimony are by invitation only and a list will be posted on the Subcommittee’s website once confirmed. The record will be open for two weeks following the hearing for written comments. In addition, a live webcast of the hearing will be available on the scheduled hearing date on the Subcommittee website. For more information about the hearing or the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs, please visit: https://naturalresources.house.gov/indianinsularandalaskanativeissues/.

March 14th & 21st, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold Oversight Hearings on Opioid Crisis and FY19 Budget Request for Tribal Programs >>

March 12th, 2018

March 14th & 21st, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold Oversight Hearings on Opioid Crisis and FY19 Budget Request for Tribal Programs

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has scheduled oversight hearings on its calendar to take place over the next two weeks. The Committee will first conduct an oversight hearing titled, “Opioids in Indian Country: Beyond the Crisis to Healing the Community,” on Wednesday, March 14th at 2:30 p.m. EST in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The Committee will then hold another oversight hearing the following week titled, “The President’s FY2019 Budget Request for Indian Programs,” on Wednesday, March 21st at 2:30 p.m. EST in the same Committee hearing room location.

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 and a webcast of these hearings will be available on the scheduled hearing dates on the Committee website. For more information about the hearing or the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, please visit: http://www.indian.senate.gov.

March 13th & 15th, 2018 – Interior Secretary Zinke to Testify before Senate and House Committees on FY19 Budget Proposal >>

March 12th, 2018

March 13th & 15th, 2018 – Interior Secretary Zinke to Testify before Senate and House Committees on FY19 Budget Proposal

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR Committee) and the House Committee on Natural Resources (HNR Committee) have scheduled hearings for this coming week to receive testimony from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke regarding the President’s Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget request for the Department of the Interior.

The full ENR Committee will first conduct its hearing on Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am (EST), in Room 366 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. ENR Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will both provide comments to open the hearing. Following their remarks, the ENR Committee will receive testimony from Secretary Zinke about the FY19 budget proposal for the Department.

Secretary Zinke will then provide testimony to the HNR Committee at its oversight hearing titled, “Policy Priorities at the Department of the Interior and the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Proposal,” on Thursday, March 15th, 2018 at 10:00 am (EST), in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building. Zinke is expected to be accompanied by the following Interior officials at both hearings:

  • Ms. Olivia Barton Ferriter, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Budget, Finance, Performance and Acquisition, Department of the Interior; and
  • Ms. Denise Flanagan, Director, Office of Budget, Department of the Interior.

A webcast of both hearings will be available on the scheduled dates on the ENR and HNR Committee websites. For more information about the hearings or committees, please visit: https://www.energy.senate.gov or https://naturalresources.house.gov.

February 14th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Indian Country and the 2020 Census >>

February 2nd, 2018

February 14th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Indian Country and the 2020 Census

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has scheduled an oversight hearing to take place on Wednesday, February 14th titled, “Making Indian Country Count: Native Americans and the 2020 Census”. The hearing will take place 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 and 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/.

Senate Fails to Advance Continuing Resolution as the Government Shuts Down >>

January 20th, 2018

Senate Fails to Advance Continuing Resolution as the Government Shuts Down

The Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the Continuing Resolution (CR) last night in a cloture vote. Senate Democrats were joined by a few Republicans in opposing the bill in an effort to force continued negotiations on resolving DACA and other spending issues. Democrats have proposed a 4 or 5 day CR in order to finish negotiations on these issues, but there is no indication yet that Republicans will bring a shorter term CR to the floor for consideration.

In doing so, the federal government shut down last night at midnight. However, it is clear that negotiations are continuing between Democrats and Republicans, and that some path forward on a CR is being considered.

January 17th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Agribusiness in Indian Country >>

January 5th, 2018

January 17th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Agribusiness in Indian Country

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has scheduled an oversight hearing to take place on Wednesday, January 17th titled, “Breaking New Ground in Agribusiness Opportunities in Indian Country”. The hearing will take place 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 and 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/.

December 14th, 2017 – House Financial Services Committee: NAHASDA Reauthorization Markup Recap >>

December 14th, 2017

House Financial Services Committee: NAHASDA Reauthorization Markup Recap

On Wednesday, December 13th, the House Financial Services Committee (“Committee”) voted on Rep. Pearce’s substitute amendment to H.R. 3864, the NAHASDA Reauthorization, that deleted the Native Hawaiian housing provisions from the bill. The initial bill as introduced had 12 bipartisan co-sponsors.

The Committee rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) to restore the Native Hawaiian provisions to the bill. Her amendment failed on a party line vote of 24-32 (all Democrats voting in favor, and all Republicans voting against)(4 members did not vote).

The Committee then advanced the Pearce substitute amendment by a vote of 37-22. Reps. Delaney (D-MD), Heck (D-WA), and Sinema (D-AZ) joined the 34 Republicans on the Committee voting in favor of Pearce’s substitute amendment.

The Committee will file the bill report on H.R. 3864 as amended and it will then be eligible for a vote on the floor by the entire House. The two-day markup lasted more than 8 hours.

Below is a brief recap of the debate on the bill and the Moore amendment.

Rep Moore spoke passionately about the need for her amendment to restore the Native Hawaiian housing provisions. She stated that she appreciated the work of Rep. Pearce and the bipartisan effort that was put into the initial bill as introduced, noting that it properly acknowledges all Native peoples. She argued that the Native Hawaiian housing program was initially enacted to help better implement the Hawaiian Homelands Commission Act of 1920 to help the indigenous peoples of Hawaii, and cited Morton v. Mancari noting that federal programs that benefit Native peoples are not racially based. She finally reasoned that the Supreme Court’s Rice v. Cayetano decision did not undo the Hawaiian Homelands Commission Act, but instead was related to voting rights and the 15th Amendment.

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) spoke to the substitute bill. He acknowledged that the Native Hawaiians housing provisions are contentious, but he said that NAHASDA is about treaty rights and the U.S. trust obligations to Native Americans. He said that Indian Country needs an additional 68,000 housing units are needed to replace inadequate units and build new units to eliminate overcrowding. “The substitute amendment erodes the bipartisan effort and makes final passage more difficult.” Heck concluded by saying that he hopes restore a bipartisan effort as the bill moves to the floor.

Ranking Member Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) spoke in opposition to H.R. 3864 as amended. However, a good portion of her remarks targeted President Trump’s actions towards Indian Country. “I am deeply disappointed in President Trump who has shown utter disrespect for Native Americans, ignoring protests by Indian tribes and approving the Keystone Pipeline potentially subjecting them to hazardous, he used a racial slur disparaging Native Americans at an event intended to honor veterans, he slashed the size of two National Monuments which include sacred Native sites to appease uranium mining companies, and his FY18 budget request would have significantly reduced funding for Native housing.”

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), the bill’s sponsor, stated that he cannot support the Moore amendment, arguing that removing the Native Hawaiian housing provisions from the bill is necessary to keep the legislation moving forward.

Rep. Sean Duffy spoke in opposition to the Moore amendment, stating that if approved it would tank the NAHASDA Reauthorization, reasoning that Native Hawaiians are not Indian tribes recognized by the BIA. He recognized the importance of NAHASDA to Indian Country, noting that former Democrat Committee Chair Barney Frank (D-MA) separated the Native Hawaiian housing provisions from a previous reauthorization. (Note: Duffy failed to acknowledge that the House of Representatives voted on a similar NAHASDA Reauthorization that included Native Hawaiian housing provisions by a vote of 297-98 in the 114th Congress-with 128 Republicans voting yes on the bill).

Rep. Davidson (R-OH) also voiced concerns with the Moore amendment. “I’m concerned that the Moore amendment undermines the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Rice v. Cayetano decision. It could be the first step towards creating an extra-Constitutional race based government program.”

Finally, Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who urged Pearce to strip the Native Hawaiian provisions, spoke against the Moore amendment, stating “the amendment is contentious, and should it be accepted, this bill will not make it to the House floor.” He too cited the Supreme Court’s Rice v. Cayetano decision as rationale for his opposition to the Native Hawaiian housing provisions, claiming that the provisions represent an unconstitutional set-aside.

December 8th, 2017 – Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund Federal Government Through December 22nd >>

December 8th, 2017

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund Federal Government Through December 22nd

On the afternoon of December 7th, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 22nd by a vote of 235-193, and the Senate quickly followed by passing the CR 81-14. Congress will now have another two weeks to try to come to an agreement to fund the government through FY 2018, as well as decide on a number of policy issues that Republicans and Democrats would like to see included in a final bill.

Although Republicans control the House and Senate, they will need at least 8 Democratic Senators to support a final bill giving Democrats some leverage on spending levels and on policy issues. Outstanding issues include overall spending levels for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs (which includes BIA and IHS), funding for a border wall, defunding Planned Parenthood, resolution of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issue, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which could also include funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, and healthcare legislation to address the individual insurance marketplace. Complicating the differences between Republicans and Democrats on all of these issues are also the competing priorities of different factions of Republicans.

It remains unclear if Congress will be able to resolve all or any of these issues by December 22nd, setting up another possible government shutdown or more likely another CR into January, 2018.

October 4th, 2017 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs adds Business Meeting to consider Johnson-O’Malley Legislation >>

October 3rd, 2017

October 4th, 2017 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs adds Business Meeting to consider Johnson-O’Malley Legislation

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has added a business meeting to its schedule this week to consider S. 943, the Johnson-O’Malley Supplemental Indian Education Program Modernization Act. The bill was introduced by Committee Member, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), in late April and is cosponsored by fellow Committee Members, Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Steve Daines (R-MT).

S. 943 requires the Department of the Interior (Interior) to provide an updated and continuing count of eligible Indian students for the Johnson-O’Malley Program (JOM Program) to ensure full participation of all qualified students. The JOM Program awards contracts to support the cultural and academic needs of Native American students. The bill states that Interior will consult with tribes, state and local education agencies that have not participated in the JOM Program to expand the number of eligible Native American students served. It also states that Interior will determine whether the JOM Program funding formula and eligibility requirements should be updated to ensure the maximum number of eligible Native American students.

The business meeting will take place tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 pm (EST) in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. Immediately following the markup consideration, the Committee will conduct its oversight hearing on Indian gaming. An updated list of witnesses for the oversight hearing has been posted to the Committee website and includes the following:

Panel 1:
• The Honorable Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, Chairman, National Indian Gaming Commission, Washington, DC; and
• Mr. John Tahsuda III, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, Interior, Washington, DC.

Panel 2:
• The Honorable Keeny Escalanti, President, Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, Yuma, AZ;
• The Honorable Harold “Gus” Frank, Chairman, Forest County Potawatomi, Crandon, WI; and
• Mr. Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association.

A webcast of the hearing will be available immediately after the conclusion of the business meeting on the Committee website. For more information about the hearing, business meeting or Committee, please visit: https://www.indian.senate.gov.

October 4th, 2017 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Indian Gaming >>

October 2nd, 2017

October 4th, 2017 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Indian Gaming

February 25, 2017 marked the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s California v. Cabazon decision, and October of 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

In light of these facts, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled an oversight hearing on Indian gaming titled, “Doubling Down on Indian Gaming: Examining New Issues and Opportunities for Success in the Next 30 Years,” which will take place on Wednesday, October 4th at 2:30pm EST in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. We understand that the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Indian Gaming Commission, and the National Indian Gaming Association have been invited to testify. Witnesses for live testimony are by invitation only, and a list will be posted on the Committee’s website once confirmed. For more information about the hearing or Committee, please visit: https://www.indian.senate.gov.