Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), left, and Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) will continue to serve as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the 116th Congress. Photo: SCIA

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hosts first meeting of 116th Congress

By Acee Agoyo

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is getting back to work as the 116th Congress kicks into gear.

The legislative panel, one of the busiest on Capitol Hill, is hosting its first organizational meeting on Tuesday. Members will formally select their chairman and vice chairman, adopt rules and approve a funding resolution for the current session.

The leadership will come of little surprise to Indian Country. Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) is retaining his seat as chair while Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) will continue to serve as vice chair.

Even though the Senate is controlled by Republicans, Hoeven and Udall have vowed to maintain the bipartisan spirit that has long characterized the committee's work. They will get a chance to do just that at a business meeting immediately following the organizational session.

A total of 12 bills are on the agenda for the business meeting. All have either passed the committee or the full Senate so Hoeven and Udall are ready to get the ball rolling on a wide range of economic development, public safety, law enforcement, self-determination and other priorities in tribal communities.

"Indian Country is not partisan politics," National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel said on Friday as he participated in a conference call with Udall and other tribal leaders.

The list of bills being considered on Tuesday follow:

S.46, the Klamath Tribe Judgment Fund Repeal Act

S.50, the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act

S.51, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians Restoration Act of 2019

S.199, the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act

S.207, to enhance Tribal road Safety, and for other purposes

S.209, the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act

S.210, the Tribal Law and Order Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2019

S.211, the SURVIVE Act

S.212, the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act

S.216, the Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act

S.224, to provide for the conveyance of certain property to the Tanana Tribal Council located in Tanana, Alaska, and to the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation located in Dillingham, Alaska, and for other purposes

S.226, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2019

As for the committee itself, its membership is largely staying the same in the 116th Congress. The notable exception is the addition of Sen. Martha McSally (R-Arizona), who is a newly appointed member of the Senate and is following in the footsteps of both the late Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Jon Kyl in serving on the panel.

Since Republicans control the Senate, their party has more seats on the committee:
• Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, Chairman
• Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming
• Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
• Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma
• Sen. Steve Daines of Montana
• Sen. Michael Crapo of Idaho
• Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona
• Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas

Democratic members of the committee include:
• Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Vice Chairman
• Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington
• Sen. Jon Tester of Montana
• Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii
• Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada
• Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota

The organizational meeting takes place at 2:30pm in Room 628 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. It will be immediately followed by the business meeting.

Both sessions will be broadcast on the committee's website.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice
Organizational Meeting and Business Meeting (January 29, 2019)

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