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Indian Affairs Committee to take up high-profile issues

It's going to be a busy couple of days for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee this week, with three hearings and a business meeting on the schedule.

Today, the committee holds a hearing on S.1530, the Tribal Parity Act. Introduced by Sen. Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), the bill would compensate the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, both of South Dakota, for damage cause to their land by Missouri River dam projects.

Tomorrow, the committee will hold a business meeting and two hearings. The business meeting will include a markup on several high-profile bills, including S.J.Res.37, the apology resolution; S.297, the Federal Acknowledgement Process Reform Act of 2003; and S.1529, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Amendments of 2003.

At the meeting, the committee will also consider a special motion to authorize a subpoena of tribes who paid Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a close associate millions in lobbying and other fees. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) launched an investigation after he read newspaper reports that four tribes gave at least $45 million to the pair.

McCain has requested a wide-ranging set of documents not just from Abramoff but from the tribes. Leaders of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, cooperated with the investigation, which they support.

But the Mississippi Band of Choctaws has not turned over any documents, according to published reports. Chief Phillip Martin has defended the money paid to Abramoff, who ended up resigning from the Greenberg Traurig firm after the high fees were disclosed. It is not clear whether Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California, the fourth tribe involved, has cooperated with the probe.

Following the meeting, the committee will hold an oversight hearing on the No Child Left Behind Act and its impact in Indian Country. Assistant secretary Dave Anderson is expected to testify.

Also on Tuesday afternoon, a hearing on S. 1996, the "Oglala Sioux Tribe Angostura Irrigation Project Rehabilitation and Development Act, is scheduled. Introduced by Daschle, the bill would authorize improvements for the water delivery services on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

For more information on the committee's schedule this week, including a list of bills being considered, visit

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McCain demands documents from lobbyist, PR exec (04/12)
McCain pushing Choctaw tribe to cooperate with probe (4/8)
Coushatta leaders used tribal money to pay lobbyists (4/8)
Coushatta Tribe paid $32M to lobbyist Jack Abramoff (4/6)
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