indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Congress fails to pass critical Indian health care bill
Monday, October 13, 2008
Filed Under: Health | National | Politics

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill went home for the November election last week without taking action on one of the biggest priorities for Indian Country.

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act has been stalled in Congress for more than seven years. Tribal leaders gained hope when it cleared the Senate in February and appeared ready to pass the House.

Instead, the national economic crisis took center stage and despite last-minute attempts by tribal advocates, the bill failed to get a vote. That left many in Indian Country upset and angry.

"Several members of Congress promised Indian Country that the IHCIA would be passed in the 110th session," said National Congress of American Indians President Joe Garcia. "Sadly it did not, and sadly Indian people will continue to suffer from astounding health disparities."

When Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007, they told NCAI and other Indian organizations like the United South and Eastern Tribes that the IHCIA was their top priority. They criticized Republicans for focusing on gaming and gaming-related controversies in the 109th Congress.

But a different hot-button issue grabbed their attention -- the disenfranchisement of the Freedmen from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The tribe came under fire for voting to exclude the descendants of former slaves from citizenship.

Nearly every piece of Indian legislation was put in doubt as lawmakers sought to cut federal funds to the tribe unless the Freedmen were reinstated. The IHCIA passed the Senate without Cherokee restrictions but it stalled in the House, where members had included similar provisions in the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act.

After a federal appeals court cleared the tribe from a lawsuit over the Freedmen, the NAHASDA reauthorization finally advanced in Congress. The tribe credited lawmakers of both parties for removing language that punished the tribe. The bill, H.R.2786, now awaits President Bush's signature.

The IHCIA reauthorization appeared to be headed towards similar success until the economic meltdown dominated the agenda in September, the last full month of work for the 110th Congress. But another sensitive political issue -- abortion -- affected its passage, according to advocates and lobbyists who spoke to Indian Country Today about the bill.

Republicans in the Senate added language to the bill to prevent the Indian Health Service from using federal funds for abortion services. The National Indian Health Board called the amendment unnecessary because existing law contains similar restrictions.

According to ICT, lawmakers didn't want to call a vote on the bill so close to the election because National Right to Life said it would "score" the bill and make it a campaign issue. "We'll fight back if they try to hijack our bill again," Kitty Marx, the legislative director of NIHB, told the paper.

Despite the IHCIA's failure, there were some important achievements in the 110th Congress. Besides the NAHASDA reauthorization, the biggest news was a surprising $2 billion boost for law enforcement, health care and water projects in Indian Country as part of S.2731, a global health bill.

There was also a long overdue recognition for all of the Indian soldiers who used their languages to help the military during World War I, World War II and other operations. H.R.4544, the Code Talkers Recognition Act, awaits Bush's signature.

H.R.6893, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, included a title to put tribes on equal footing with states for federal foster care funds. Bush signed the bill into law on October 7.

H.R.1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, also included tribal language. It extended two tax credits that encourage economic development and employment in Indian Country, in addition to the provisions aimed at preventing the American economy from collapsing.

Finally, individual tribes across the country saw action on their bills. H.R.6370, the Oregon Surplus Federal Land Act, a bill to return ancestral land to the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon was signed into law on Friday.

S.3128, the White Mountain Apache Tribe Rural Water System Loan Authorization Act, also cleared Congress and is ready for action from Bush. H.R.2963, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians Land Transfer Act, is at the White House.



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud housing program wins top award (12/9)
Native Sun News Today: More tribal citizens sign up for Medicaid (12/9)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Maybe we can learn from our tragic history (12/9)
Mike Myers: What Trump's election means for indigenous nations (12/9)
Bureau of Indian Affairs opens door to big shift in tribal economies (12/8)
Tribes promise fight against Dakota Access ahead of court hearing (12/8)
Tribes bringing #NoDAPL battle to international human rights forum (12/8)
Dakota Access Pipeline disputes small fine for disturbing tribal site (12/8)
Harold Frazier: 'Wopila tanka' to all the #NoDAPL water protectors (12/8)
Native Sun News Today: Temporary win on Dakota Access Pipeline (12/8)
Lakota Country Times: Arrests made in fatal Pine Ridge shootings (12/8)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: A bumpy ride with Donald Trump (12/8)
Delphine Red Shirt: We must step up and take care of our children (12/8)
James Giago Davies: Obama could have stopped #NoDAPL abuses (12/8)
Steven Newcomb: 'Unjust' war against #NoDAPL water protectors (12/8)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community starts work on casino upgrades (12/8)
Seminole Tribe still shares gaming revenue despite lack of compact (12/8)
Chukchansi Tribe finally distributes $1.4M in overdue gaming funds (12/8)
Tribal sovereignty foe slated to join Donald Trump's administration (12/7)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin denies speculation of 'privatizing' tribal land (12/7)
Sen. Barrasso passing on gavel at Senate Indian Affairs Committee (12/7)
North Dakota county wants 'Sheriff Kirchmeier' account off Twitter (12/7)
Indian Health Service plans to award $1.4M in Native youth grants (12/7)
Rosalyn R. LaPier: How Standing Rock became a site of pilgrimage (12/7)
Lakota Country Times: North Dakota county sheriff hit with lawsuit (12/7)
Vi Waln: The #NoDAPL movement reminds them we are still here (12/7)
Native Sun News Today: Lakota artist designs 'Water is Life' tipi (12/7)
Ivan Star Comes Out: The lust for oil and the #NoDAPL movement (12/7)
Common Dreams: Veterans ask for forgiveness at Standing Rock (12/7)
Tiffany Midge: Don't shame Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for pipeline (12/7)
Editorial: A 'false victory' on the Dakota Access Pipeline easement (12/7)
Nick Zaiac: Let tribes decide what to do with their own homelands (12/7)
Redding Rancheria 'excited' about bid to move casino to new site (12/7)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe defends right to use land for gaming (12/7)
Dakota Access resumes push to complete final portion of pipeline (12/6)
Dave Archambault: It's time for water protectors to return home (12/6)
Kirk Francis: Tribes must remain vigilant despite #NoDAPL victory (12/6)
Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn: Numbers behind Standing Rock's victory (12/6)
Supreme Court schedules oral argument in tribal immunity case (12/6)
Congress passes long-awaited land bills for two tribes in Oregon (12/6)
USDA awards first $10M loan to help consolidate Indian land base (12/6)
Native Sun News Today: Lone Indian Republican wins in Montana (12/6)
Lakota Country Times: New rule curbs waste of tribal resources (12/6)
Clara Caufield: Indian Country in good hands with young leaders (12/6)
Non-Indian gaming firm fighting Wilton Rancheria casino project (12/6)
Chukchansi Tribe casino dispute leads to lawsuits in federal court (12/6)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.