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
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
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: Native youth work to bring relatives home (2/12)
Mark Trahant: Native voters are the true outsiders in any election (2/12)
Vincent Schilling: I am not ashamed to be a sexual assault victim (2/12)
Lakota Country Times: Missing Oglala Sioux woman found dead (2/11)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Town repays Oneida Nation with racism (2/11)
Brandon Ecoffey: Treaties guaranteed health care for our people (2/11)
Vincent Armenta: Chumash Tribe battles opponents at every turn (2/11)
Michael Marchand: Arrow Lakes people still fighting for our rights (2/11)
Steven Newcomb: Federal Indian law based on invented realities (2/11)
Native basketball tournament bars player who lacks Indian blood (2/11)
Armed occupation of wildlife refuge in Oregon ends with arrests (2/11)
Native activists ask Obama to help with liquor sales in Whiteclay (2/11)
South Dakota lawmakers kill bill to support return of land to tribes (2/11)
Miami Nation agrees to forfeit $48M from online lending business (2/11)
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation creates $1.2M endowment at ASU (2/11)
Colville Tribes issue citation for death of rare owl on reservation (2/11)
Fort Independence Indian Community cheated by former partner (2/11)
Paskenta Band donates $125K to buy new vehicle for firefighters (2/11)
Man pleads guilty for dealing meth on Mescalero Apache Nation (2/11)
Public high school gives up racist mascot in response to new law (2/11)
Morongo Band and San Manuel Band question fantasy sports bill (2/11)
Former Sac and Fox Nation casino employee charged with theft (2/11)
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians celebrates 3rd birthday of casino (2/11)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation again told it can't accept casino bids (2/11)
Editorial: Measure stops Lytton Band from pursuing new casinos (2/11)
Obama seeks another increase for Indian Health Service budget (2/10)
Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity (2/10)
Lakota Country Times: Indian lawmakers oppose drug testing bill (2/10)
Vince Two Eagles: The rez of the story about treaty-making in US (2/10)
Kristi Noem: Indian Health Service remains in state of emergency (2/10)
Chase Iron Eyes: Real sovereigns don't disenroll their own people (2/10)
Gyasi Ross: African and Native Americans fought for their survival (2/10)
Albert Bender: Tribes should reclaim land from unratified treaties (2/10)
John Lavelle: Supreme Court weighs key tribal sovereignty issue (2/10)
Women take top three leadership positions at Menominee Nation (2/10)
Northern Arapaho Tribe seeking to repatriate remains of students (2/10)
White Mountain Apache Tribe considers change to blood quantum (2/10)
Blackfeet Nation citizens still talking about constitutional reforms (2/10)
Sweat lodge at Army post helps with PTSD treatment for veterans (2/10)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes welcome return of land (2/10)
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders win big in New Hampshire vote (2/10)
Prairie Island Indian Community unveils $19M gaming expansion (2/10)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community approves upgrades at casinos (2/10)
Seminole Tribe's gaming compact takes a step forward in Florida (2/10)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation insists on pursuing Connecticut casino (2/10)
National campaign launched to stop tribal disenrollment epidemic (2/9)
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.