indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Tim Giago: Standing tall for Native American Day in South Dakota (9/15)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne man beaten by BIA officer (9/15)
Mark Trahant: Ten reasons why every Native person should vote (9/15)
Jay Daniels: Still waiting on that final Cobell settlement payment (9/15)
Vote set on bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino from litigation (9/15)
HUD settles complaint for couple on Turtle Mountain Reservation (9/15)
Bryan Brewer: Approve HR3043 to stop IRS harassment of tribes (9/15)
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Donna Ennis: Tribal banishments are a form of cultural genocide (9/15)
Steven Newcomb: Political meanings restrict indigenous peoples (9/15)
Bruce Anderson: Washington team name preserves stereotypes (9/15)
Column: DC-area Native people oppose NFL team's racist mascot (9/15)
House set to vote on bill to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/15)
Paskenta Band holds election aimed at resolving council dispute (9/15)
Tribes in Oklahoma raise their minimum wage above federal level (9/15)
Blog: Taos Pueblo exerts sovereignty over health care programs (9/15)
Travel: Remote parks on Navajo Nation are an 'extraordinary find' (9/15)
Petitions submitted to put Tohono O'odham Nation casino to vote (9/15)
Dry Creek Rancheria struggling to see gaming revenues recover (9/15)
Poarch Creeks still open to Class III gaming compact discussion (9/15)
Editorial: Cherokee Nation brings jobs with project next to casino (9/15)
Native Sun News: Olympic medalist visits Pine Ridge Reservation (9/12)
Bryan Brewer: Bill for Native language immersion a high priority (9/12)
Sen. Tester applauds approval of final Cobell settlement payout (9/12)
Kenneth Deer: UN meeting an opportunity for indigenous peoples (9/12)
Judge won't issue injunction in Pojoaque Pueblo compact dispute (9/12)
Ex-manager for Shingle Springs Band's casino told to pay $2.4M (9/12)
Briefs filed in lawsuit over United Keetoowah Band's gaming site (9/12)
Quapaw Tribe expands agricultural program at casino restaurant (9/12)
Judge approves motion to distribute Cobell settlement payment (9/11)
Native Sun News: Final Cobell payment might 'almost' be ready (9/11)
Mark Trahant: Affordable Care Act is worthy of debate in election (9/11)
Gyasi Ross: Support Quechan skate park and self-determination (9/11)
Disaster declared after Moapa Paiute Reservation hit by flooding (9/11)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (9/11)
Navajo Nation presidential candidate a target over fluency issue (9/11)
Northern Arapaho Tribe withdraws from joint Wind River council (9/11)
Editorial: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe trying to make budget work (9/11)
University of Utah creates scholarships for students of Ute Tribe (9/11)
Nez Perce Tribe seeks update to historic trail from 1877 journey (9/11)
Miccosukee Tribe seeks removal of judge in dispute with lawyers (9/11)
Jessica Carro: Native people treated like foreigners in Argentina (9/11)
Peru investigates murders of four prominent indigenous leaders (9/11)
SCIA sets hearing on bill to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/11)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe and state in compact arbitration (9/11)
Choctaw Nation reduces height of casino hotel amid FAA concern (9/11)
Seminole Tribe wins ruling over state taxation at gaming facilities (9/11)
Maine tribes hopeful for casino as lawmakers examine new study (9/11)
Editorial: Mohegan Tribe's gaming plan is right for Massachusetts (9/11)
Native Sun News: Tribes worried about Black Hills uranium mines (9/10)
Native Sun News: DOJ report highlights activity in Indian Country (9/10)
Mark Trahant: Native voters bring element of surprise in election (9/10)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on irrigation (9/10)
Audio: House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs (9/10)
9th Circuit to broadcast arguments in Big Lagoon casino dispute (9/10)
Ruben Balderas: Tohono O'odham Nation casino breaks promise (9/10)
Jay Daniels: Return per cap if you oppose resource development (9/10)
Opinion: Decision signals shift on state taxation in Indian Country (9/10)
Julianne Jennings: Fear of witches and Indians in Massachusetts (9/10)
Cobell buy-back program includes base offer of $75 for interests (9/10)
Chippewa Cree Tribe only receives 4.5 percent of loan revenues (9/10)
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.