House Resources Committee passes two Indian bills at markup
The House Natural Resources Committee approved two Indian bills at markup session on Thursday.

H.R.2523, the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act, allows tribes to develop land leasing regulations. Once the regulations are approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribes would not need to seek the agency's review for every single lease.

At the markup, the committee approved an amendment in the nature of the substitute that Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Washington) said would destroy the original purpose of the bill. He said the new version includes provisions similar to the Tribal Energy Resources Agreements that were adopted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

TERAs were designed for subsurface leasing and imposing them on tribes for housing leases would be inappropriate, Hastings said. He noted that the Senate version of the bill does not include the same provisions.

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), the chairman of the committee, moved the substitute forward but agreed to address the issue before the bill makes it to the House floor. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), the sponsor of the HEARTH Act, acknowledged that tribes have raised concerns about the new version.

The second bill approved at the markup was H.R.4347, the Department of the Interior Tribal Self-Governance Act. It addresses several issues in the self-governance program at the Interior Department.

The most critical provision would bring some of the successful self-governance initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services to DOI. Tribes say they are being forced to comply with two different sets of requirements.

The committee approved an amendment in the nature of a substitute to the bill, which the Obama administration does not support.

Committee Notice:
Full Committee Markup (July 22, 2010)

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