Indian Health Service S.465, the Independent Outside Audit of the Indian Health Service Act of 2017
Sponsor: Sen. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) S.465, the Independent Outside Audit of the Indian Health Service Act of 2017, requires the federal government to conduct an independent and comprehensive auditIndian Health Service to determine where improvements can be made in budget, staffing and management. The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, which represents tribes in one of the worst-performing regions of the agency, has long called for such an review. "The inadequate quality of health care in the Great Plains Region has resulted in actual genocide of our tribal members, who suffer from the highest diabetes death rates, the highest tuberculosis death rates, higher incidences of other diseases than mainstream America, and the lowest life expectancy among all IHS regions in the United States and mainstream America," the tribes said in an April 2016 resolution. The committee took testimony on the bill on November 8, 2017. The Trump administration has not said whether it supports or opposes the measure.
Water Rights S.2154, the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas Water Rights Settlement Agreement
Sponsor: Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) S.2154, the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas Water Rights Settlement Agreement, ratifies a water rights settlement between the Kickapoo Tribe and the state of Kansas. The measure would help the tribe and its non-Indian neighbors address a long-running water crisis but it faces major opposition in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration does not support the bill, a senior Department of the Interior official said at a hearing on July 18. The tribe and the state went off on their own and negotiated provisions without federal support, according to the testimony. The need for further negotiations was rejected by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), the bill's sponsor, and Chairman Lester Randall. Both said immediate action was critical. "Water is life," Randall testified. "Water is sacred to us."
Tribal Homelands S.2599, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act
Sponsor: Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) S.2599, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act, would transfer nearly 12,000 acres of federally-managed land in Minnesota back to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The land was sold by the Bureau of Indian Affairs between 1948 and 1959 despite lacking consent from all of the individual owners. "We believe a significant tribal land base is the foundation of tribal sovereignty and self- determination," Chairman Faron Jackson, Sr., said in testimony on the bill on July 11. He noted that the tribe currently owns just 5 percent of the land within its reservation. The Trump administration has a "number of concerns" with the bill, an official from the Department of Agriculture said at the hearing. Lack of public access was one issue, though Jackson said the tribe had no plans to change existing uses, such as hunting and fishing. The land is currently part of the Chippewa National Forest within the U.S. Forest Service. Only Congress has the authority to transfer federal lands.
Next StepsAssuming all three bills are approved by the committee, the next step would be passage by the full Senate. From there, they could be taken up by the House. The business meeting takes place at 2:30pm Eastern on Wednesday in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. It will be immediately followed by an oversight hearing on juvenile justice.
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs NoticeBusiness Meeting to Consider S. 465, S. 2154 & S. 2599 (September 26, 2018)
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