The following is the opinion of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
I am proud to recognize and share my appreciation for Montana's first
residents during National Native American Heritage Month in November -
and every month of the year.
The tribal communities in Montana are a fundamental part of who we are
as Montanans, and I value our government to government relations. They
are a vibrant part of our history and play a vital role in ensuring a
bright and prosperous future for our state.
A few weeks ago, President Obama pledged that the White House would
not forget the issues facing tribal communities across the United
States. I second the President's commitment. I've been fighting to
ensure Indian communities get the support, funding and attention they
deserve, and with the President's backing there is even more we can
We've already done a great deal this year. I fought to help make more
tribal members eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health
Insurance Program (CHIP) so they can get the care they need, when they
need it. Senator Jon Tester and I pushed for over $3.5 billion in
federal funding to help tribal communities create good-paying jobs and
boost tribal economies with resources for improving classrooms and
health clinics, cleaning up drinking water and building community
development projects like dams and irrigations facilities.
I've introduced the Crow Tribe Land Restoration Act to establish a
loan program to help the Crow Tribe preserve their land, and
co-sponsored the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 to make sure that
tribal law enforcement officials have every tool possible to do their
jobs. I included provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act
in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) earlier this
year. As part of ARRA, we included $2 billion for Tribal Tax Exempt
These are only a few examples of the work that's been done, but there
is always more to do. There are still plenty of folks who need help -
whether it's with health care or jobs, education or law enforcement.
I am going to keep working hard for Montana Indian communities.
I'll make sure health care reform is right for Montana's tribal
communities, that they get the resources they need for law
enforcement, education, and economic development, and that their
voices are heard in Washington.
Montana's tribes have a rich history and together we will make sure we
can be just as proud of their future.