Senate Committee on Indian Affairs taking quick action on bills

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Photo by SCIA

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has been moving quickly on legislation during the second half of the 114th Congress.

In the last two months alone, the committee has sent 11 bills to the Senate floor. Three were approved at a business meeting on Wednesday and eight were approved in April.

"I want to commend you for your efforts in moving Indian County forward," Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), the vice chairman of the committee, told Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), the chairman, on Wednesday.

The 11 bills are an addition to two that were approved in February. While none have cleared the full chamber, they are sign of a busy agenda -- the committee has convened 12 hearings, meetings and roundtables since January.

Another hearing has already been scheduled for May 18. The agenda includes two bills that were introduced just this week and one that was introduced last month.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Business Meeting May 11 2016

The quick pace stands in contrast to that seen in the House. Since January, the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs has has convened just two hearings on Indian bills.

A third will finally come next week after a nearly two-month lapse. And a fourth is expected before the end of the month although the subcommittee hasn't posted a notice yet.

The House Committee on Natural Resources, however, has advanced eight bills since January so lawmakers there have been busy too. One of them -- H.R.812, the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act -- already passed the chamber in February although it hasn't been taken up in the Senate.

The agenda for the May 18 Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing follows:
S.2785, the Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act. The bill recognizes the "inherent authority" of tribes to arrest and prosecute any person for drug-related crimes, domestic violence against children and crimes against tribal law enforcement officers.
S.2916, a bill to address leasing issues for Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.
S.2920, the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization Act of 2016. The bill reauthorizes several key provisions of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.

The agenda for the May 18 House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affair hearing follows:
H.R.4289, a bill to convey Indian Health Service properties to the Tanana Tribal Council and to the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation, both in Alaska. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing on S.2421, a companion measure, on April 13. Similar legislation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation was enacted by Congress last October.
S.246, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act. The bill creates a commission to study federal, state, local and tribal programs that affect Native youth and will make recommendations on ways to improve them. The bill passed the Senate in June 2015.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Legislative Hearing to receive testimony on the following bills: S. 2785, S. 2916, & S. 2920 (May 18, 2016)

House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Notice:
Legislative Hearing on H.R. 4289 and S. 246 (May 18, 2016)

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