WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, spoke out against President Trump’s proposed FY 2018 budget and its devastating impact to Tribal programs and services:
“President Trump’s budget proposal for programs affecting Indian Country is extremely troubling because of its disregard for the federal government’s responsibilities and its troubling lack of understanding of the challenges facing Tribal communities. I’m concerned that it would violate the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations to provide even basic health, education, public safety and other core services to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
“The president’s deep proposed cuts are even more dramatic when compared to the FY 2017 funding levels Congress approved earlier this month. Slashing funding for these programs would exacerbate challenges identified in a recent Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing regarding high-risk federal programs: a federal workforce in need of more resources, not less, and the need for vital investments to Indian schools and health care facilities. The cuts total more than $300 million for the Indian Health Service, $370 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, and $50 million for Native American housing. The proposals to drain funding from Medicaid and eliminate critical programs — such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides life-saving heating assistance to families and elders in Indian Country – further underscore the president’s callous disregard for Indian Country.
“Indian Country deserves much better, and I will fight to ensure that its budget priorities are properly reflected in any appropriations measure Congress passes. Fortunately, the president’s budget is just a statement of the administration’s misguided priorities, and it doesn’t have the force of law. I’m confident that it will be dead on arrival in the Capitol.”