Udall Secures Enactment of 12 Indian Affairs Bills

Dec 22, 2020

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For Immediate Release

December 22, 2020

Contact: Ned Adriance

505.218.3378 | news@tomudall.senate.gov | @SenatorTomUdall 

 

Udall Secures Enactment of 12 Indian Affairs Bills

 

Also hails Senate passage of additional Indian Affairs Bills

 

7 bills Udall led or co-sponsored will become law, will free up resources for urban Indian health programs, increase health care access for Native teachers and veterans, address Tribal mental health, increase Tribal access to homelessness assistance programs, and fulfill federal obligations for New Mexico water settlements

 

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, hailed final passage of 12 Indian Affairs-related bills, which will now go to the president to be signed into law.

 

Udall also cheered Senate passage of seven additional Indian Affairs provisions, which must be passed by the House of Representatives.

 

Udall led or cosponsored seven of the 12 Indian Affairs-related bills set to become law, including:

- The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, Udall’s bipartisan bill to improve health care access for Native American Veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage for care that Native American veterans receive at urban Indian health centers;

- The Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion Act, a bill led by Senators Udall, Heinrich, and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) to ensure the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has sufficient funding and time to implement its obligations under the 2010 Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act;

- The Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act, a bipartisan bill led by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.)and co-sponsored by Udall to ensure teachers and staff at Tribally-operated Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) grant schools have equitable access to the Federal Employee;

- The Coverage for Urban Indian Health Providers Act, a bipartisan bill led by Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)and cosponsored by Udall to free up resources for urban Indian health programs supported by the Indian Health Service (IHS);

- The Native American Suicide Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)and cosponsored by Udall to address the growing suicide crisis in Indian Country by ensuring collaboration among states and Tribal organizations in the design and implementation of statewide suicide intervention and prevention programs; and

- The Tribal Access to Homelessness Assistance Act, a bipartisan bill led by Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and cosponsored by Udall to provide Tribes parity access to federal homelessness assistance programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

 

“With the passage of these bills, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has had one of its most productive legislative periods in the last 20 years – passing a number of measures that will benefit Native communities,” said Udall. “I am proud to have worked with Chairman Hoeven and many other colleagues to move these important bills through the Senate – and get 12 more new laws on the books These new laws will ensure Tribal schools have more resources, Native veterans can always access culturally-competent health care, Native communities have a voice in designing mental health services, Tribal housing departments can combat homelessness, and that the federal government is living up to its side of Tribal water settlements.”

 

The following 12 Indian Affairs-related bills will go to the President to be signed into law:

Coverage for Urban Indian Health Providers Act

- Led by Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.);

- Cosponsored by Udall;

- Expands Federal Torts Claim Act coverage to IHS-supported urban Indian health centers, which are the only IHS-funded facilities currently required to divert already-limited resources away from patient care to cover liability costs.

 

Proper and Reimbursed Care for Native Veterans Act

- Led by Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.);

- Ensures the VA will cover the costs for Native veterans who receive referrals from specialty care from their IHS doctors.

 

Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act

- Led by Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.);

- Increases access to capital for Tribes and Native businesses; and

- Creates tools to attract investments in Native communities.

 

Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act

- Led by Udall;

- Provides VA coverage for care Native American veterans receive at urban Indian health centers.

 

Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion Act

- Led by Udall;

- Provides additional resources to complete the terms of the Aamodt Water Settlement, an important New Mexico water project.

 

Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act

- Led by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.);

- Cosponsored by Udall;

- Creates equitable access to the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) for teachers at Tribally-controlled BIE grant schools.

 

Native American Suicide Prevention Act

- Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.);

- Cosponsored by Udall;

- Addresses the growing suicide crisis in Indian Country by ensuring collaboration among states and Tribes to design and implement statewide suicide intervention and prevention programs that work for Native communities.

 

Tribal Access to Homeless Assistance Act

- Led by Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.);

- Cosponsored by Udall;

- Makes Tribes and Tribally designated housing entities eligible to participate in HUD’s Continuum of Care program, so they can apply for and coordinate assistance for those experiencing homelessness in Tribal areas.

 

Native American Housing Affordability Act

- Led by Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.);

- Addresses bureaucratic delays for Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee program by allowing HUD to guarantee a loan before receiving final land title documents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, provided that the lender temporarily indemnifies HUD.

 

Navajo Utah Water Settlement Act

- Led by Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah);

- Provides the authorization necessary to begin addressing the +40% of Navajo households in Utah that lack access to running water and adequate sanitation in their homes.

 

Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas Water Rights Settlement Act

- Led by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kans.);

- Authorizes completion of a study necessary to move the Kickapoo Tribe’s water settlement agreement forward.

 

Montana Water Rights Protection Act

- Led by Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.);

- Ratifies the Montana and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Water Compact to resolve the Tribes’ water rights claims; and

- Brings much needed certainty for Tribal and Non-Tribal water users in Montana.

 

The following seven Indian Affairs-related bills passed the Senate and went to the House of Representatives for consideration:

S.2165, Safeguarding Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2019

- Led by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.);

- Cosponsored by Udall;

- Improves coordination among federal agencies to protect and repatriate illegally trafficked Native American cultural items;

- Establishes an export certification system to facilitate repatriation of illegally trafficked Native American cultural patrimony;

- Establishes a Native working group of Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to assist in the implementation of this Act.

 

S.2716, A bill to amend the Grand Ronde Reservation Act

- Led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.);

- Reinstates the treaty rights of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (Confederated Tribes) to pursue land claims.

 

S.3099, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act

- Led by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska);

- Conveys 10.87 acres of land to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium to allow for the update and renovation of the IHS-funded Mt. Edgecumbe hospital.

 

S.3100, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act

- Led by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska);

- Conveys two parcels of land to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to improve health care services for Alaska Natives.

 

S.3948, a bill to amend the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act

- Led by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska);

- Extends the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children report deadline from 3 years to 5 years.

 

S. 4079, a bill to authorize the Seminole Tribe of Florida to lease or transfer certain land, and for other purposes

- Led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.);

- Clarifies the authority of the Seminole Tribe to sell or encumber unrestricted fee land without regard to the language of the Indian Non-Intercourse Act. 

 

S.4556, A bill to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to acquire private land to facilitate access to the Desert Sage Youth Wellness Center in Hemet, California

- Led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.);

- Authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to acquire the land upon which the entry road to the IHS-funded Desert Sage Youth Wellness Center is located in order to improve the condition and maintenance of the road.

 

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