A powwow on the Meskwaki Settlement in Iowa. Photo: Angel Mercado

Trump Cabinet officials 'invited' to House hearing on Indian bills

After a long absence, the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs is finally holding its first legislative hearing of the 115th Congress.

But it looks like the witness list isn't quite complete. Two Trump administration officials -- Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the Department of Justice -- are merely listed as "invited" to the hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

The description gives off the clear impression that neither will actually be showing up to testify about the pro-tribal bills on the agenda. But the subcommittee has at least given Sessions an out -- his "designee" could attend instead.

Tribal and Alaska Native leaders will be there regardless. They will be asking lawmakers to approve the bills, which address law enforcement, health care and leasing issues in their communities.

And the federal government is sending one representative for sure. Bruce Loudermilk, the recently-installed director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be there. Loudermilk is a career employee, not a political appointee.

The three bills on the agenda for the hearing follow:
H.R.1074, a bill to address criminal jurisdiction issues on the settlement of the Meskwaki Tribe. The state of Iowa already enacted a law relinquishing jurisdiction over crimes committed by tribal citizens but Congress must also take action. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs advanced S.381 at a business meeting on March 29.
H.R.1901, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act. The bill authorizes a transfer of land from the Indian Health Service to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Alaska. Similar legislation has been enacted for other tribal organizations in Alaska.
S.249, a bill to address leasing issues for Santa Clara Pueblo and Ohkay Owingeh, both based in New Mexico. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved the measure on March 29.

The hearing takes place at 2pm in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building. The witness list follows:
The Honorable Tom Price (Invited)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Jeff Sessions or Designee (Invited)
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC

Mr. Bruce Loudermilk
Bureau of Indian Affairs
U.S. Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Lavern Jefferson
Council Member & Treasurer
Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
Tama, Iowa

The Honorable J. Michael Chavarria
Santa Clara Pueblo
Española, New Mexico

Mr. Chuck Clement
President & CEO
Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
Juneau, Alaska

House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Notice:
Legislative Hearing on H.R. 1074, H.R. 1901 and S. 249 (June 7, 2017)

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