Congress Fails to Reauthorize the Farm Bill >>

October 2nd, 2018

Congress Fails to Reauthorize the Farm Bill

On Friday, the 2014 Farm Bill (The Agricultural Act of 2014) expired without the congressional conference committee reaching an agreement on a compromise bill. While the top members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have been in ongoing negotiations, disagreements over changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) and modifications to the conservation title have created challenges in getting to a final bill.

The failure to reauthorize the Farm Bill will immediately impact 39 programs that have authorization and funding tied to the September 30th farm bill expiration date. The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) is one of these programs. About a quarter of Native Americans receive food assistance, and in some communities, as many as 80%. FDPIR allows agencies or tribal communities to order food that USDA purchases and ships to local distribution centers. Without a reauthorization of the farm bill, USDA does not have funding to purchase food. While FDPIR users can switch to using the SNAP program, tribal communities without easy access to groceries rely on FDPIR to bring food assistance to those who need it.

Other programs immediately impacted include government-funded agriculture trade promotion, organic agriculture programs, certain bioenergy programs, beginning farmers programs, and the farmers market programs.

There are no immediate ramifications for the majority of programs authorized under the Farm Bill. The two largest programs in the bill, SNAP and crop insurance, are funded through the annual appropriations process and will operate regardless of the status of the Farm Bill. Other Farm Bill programs, including important USDA dairy programs, are set to expire on December 31.

There is a history of legislative delays during Farm Bill reauthorizations. While past bills have lapsed and led to short-term extensions, there is no talk of moving forward with an extension at this time. The Agriculture Committee Chairs are optimistic they can reach an agreement and that the bill will be taken up after the November midterm elections during the lame-duck session of Congress. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-KS, who chairs the Farm Bill conference committee, said in a statement Friday that the focus is “on getting a conference agreement on the Farm Bill as soon as possible to minimize the impact.”

Should Congress fail to pass a Farm Bill during the lame-duck session, they will have to pivot to pass a short-term extension and then re-start the legislative process in 2019.

President Signs Continuing Resolution to Fund Government >>

October 2nd, 2018

PRESIDENT SIGNS H.R. 6157 – FY19 DOD AND LHHS APPROPRIATIONS AND CONTINUING RESOLUTION

Today, the President signed H.R. 6157, the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019. Earlier this week, the House passed the bill by a vote of 361-61 after the Senate had previously passed the bill last week. The bill provides appropriations for FY19 for the programs funded under the Defense Appropriations Bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Bill, and the bill also provides a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund programs from other Appropriations Bills that are not funded for FY19 through December 7. The CR includes the Interior Appropriations Bill which funds the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, the EPA, and many other programs that affect Indian country. In addition, the bill reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) through December 7.

October 3rd, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Broadband Availability on Tribal Lands >>

September 25th, 2018

October 3rd, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Broadband Availability on Tribal Lands

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has scheduled an oversight hearing titled, “GAO Reports Relating to Broadband Internet Availability on Tribal Lands”. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, October 3rd 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 the hearing will be available on the scheduled 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.

September 26th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Juvenile Justice for Tribal Youth >>

September 10th, 2018

September 26th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on Juvenile Justice for Tribal Youth

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has scheduled an oversight hearing titled, “Justice for Native Youth: The GAO Report on Native American Youth Involvement in Justice Systems and Information on Grants to Help Address Juvenile Delinquency”. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, September 26th 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 the hearing will be available on the scheduled 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.

September 13th, 2018 – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 4985 >>

September 10th, 2018

September 13th, 2018 – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 4985

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs (IIANA Subcommittee) has scheduled a legislative hearing to receive testimony this week on the following tribal related bill:

  • H.R. 4985 – To restore an opportunity for tribal economic development on terms that are equal and fair, and for other purposes, also referred to as the “Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Settlement Act” introduced by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX).

The hearing will take place on Thursday, September 13th at 2:00 p.m. EST in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Witnesses for live testimony are by invitation only and a list will be posted on the IIANA Subcommittee website once confirmed. The record will be open for two weeks following the hearing for written comments and a webcast of the hearing will be available on the scheduled date on the Subcommittee website. For more information about the hearing or the IIANA Subcommittee, please visit: https://naturalresources.house.gov/indianinsularandalaskanativeissues/.

2018 Farm Bill Reauthorization Taking Shape >>

August 2nd, 2018

2018 Farm Bill Reauthorization Taking Shape

The House and Senate have convened a Conference Committee to iron out differences between their competing versions of the Farm Bill. Yesterday, Senate leadership named five Republicans and four Democrats as its Conferees on the Farm Bill. These nine Senators will join the 47 House Members already named as Conferees to work out a final Farm Bill. The full list of Conference Committee members can be found below.

While the House is currently on their month-long recess (and the Senate starts their one-week recess today), the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Ag Committees have indicated their commitment to moving the process forward.


Senate Conferees
Republicans: Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. John Boozeman (R-AR), Sen Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)

Democrats: Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

House Conferees
House Committee on Agriculture:
Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX)
Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)
Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR)
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)
Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC)
Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH)
Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ)

Education and Workforce:
Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA)
Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC)

Energy and Commerce:
Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY)

Financial Services:
Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI)
Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Foreign Affairs:
Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA)
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY)

Natural Resources:
Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR)
Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)

Oversight and Government Reform:
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC)
Rep. James Comer (R-KY)
Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI)

Science, Space, and Technology:
Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA)
Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

Transportation and Infrastructure:
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL)

July 24th, 2018 – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 5244, S. 607 and S. 1116 >>

July 19th, 2018

July 24th, 2018 – House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Legislative Hearing on H.R. 5244, S. 607 and S. 1116

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs (IIANA Subcommittee) has scheduled a legislative hearing to receive testimony next week on the following tribal related bills:

  • H.R. 5244 – To reaffirm the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reservation, and for other purposes, also referred to as the “Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act” introduced by Rep. William Keating (D-MA);
  • S. 607 – A bill to establish a business incubators program within the Department of the Interior to promote economic development in Indian reservation communities also referred to as the “Native American Business Incubators Program Act” introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM); and
  • S. 1116 – A bill to amend the Native American Business Development, Trade Promotion, and Tourism Act of 2000, the Buy Indian Act, and the Native American Programs Act of 1974 to provide industry and economic development opportunities to Indian communities, also referred to as the “Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2018” introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND).

The hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 24th at 2:00 p.m. EST in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Witnesses for live testimony are by invitation only and a list will be posted on the IIANA Subcommittee website once confirmed. The record will be open for two weeks following the hearing for written comments and a webcast of the hearing will be available on the scheduled date on the Subcommittee website. For more information about the hearing or the IIANA Subcommittee, please visit: https://naturalresources.house.gov/indianinsularandalaskanativeissues/.

July 18th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Legislative Hearing on S. 2154, S. 3060 and S. 3168 >>

July 16th, 2018

July 18th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Legislative Hearing on S. 2154, S. 3060, and S. 3168

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has scheduled a legislative hearing to receive testimony this week on the following tribal related bills:

  • S. 2154 – Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas Water Rights Settlement Agreement Act, introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS);
  • S. 3060 – A bill to repeal section 2141 of the Revised Statutes to remove the prohibition on certain alcohol manufacturing on Indian lands, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA); and
  • S. 3168 – A bill to amend the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 to make Reclamation Water Settlements Fund permanent, introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM).

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 18th 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 the hearing will be available on the scheduled 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.

July 11th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Legislative Hearing on S. 2599, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act >>

July 9th, 2018

July 11th, 2018 – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Legislative Hearing on S. 2599, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Committee) has scheduled a legislative hearing this week to receive testimony on S. 2599, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act, introduced by Committee Member and Minnesota Senator Tina Smith. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 11th at 2:30 p.m. EST in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Prior to the start of the hearing, the Committee will conduct a brief Business Meeting to consider H.R. 597, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2017. The oversight hearing will begin immediately after consideration of H.R. 597.

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 the hearing will be available on the scheduled 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.

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

June 29th, 2018

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.