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Bill introduced in Senate to fix Carcieri land-into-trust decision

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana). Photo from Facebook

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, introduced a bill on Friday to fix the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

S.732 amends the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 to ensure that all tribes, regardless of the date of their federal recognition, can follow the land-into-trust process. The bill has seven co-sponsors -- six Democrats and one Republican.

"This bipartisan bill was built with tribal input and eliminates unnecessary hurdles for tribes to increase economic development opportunities," Tester said in press release. "The court decision had a negative impact on tribes across the nation by causing costly litigation and harmful delays in critical infrastructure development. This solution addresses one of Indian Country's top priorities and is a strong step forward to fulfilling the federal government's treaty and trust responsibilities."

The bill comes more than six years after the Supreme Court ruled that the Bureau of Indian Affairs can place land in trust only for those tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934. Congress has failed to enact a fix despite support from Indian Country and the Obama administration.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman of the committee, has not signed onto Tester's bill. The committee will be holding a roundtable to discuss the Carcieri decision on March 25.

Committee Notice:
Roundtable Discussion on "The Carcieri v. Salazar Supreme Court Decision and Exploring a Way Forward." (March 25, 2015)

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