July 14, 2016

Barrasso and McCain Introduce Bill to Spur Economic Development in Tribal Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and committee member Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), introduced S. 3234, the Indian Community Economic Enhancement Act of 2016.
The legislation is based on input from Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and businesses. It will improve access to capital in tribal communities by amending and improving existing law, including:
•           the Native American Business Development, Trade Promotion, and Tourism
            Act of 2000;
•           the Native American Programs Act of 1974;
•           the Indian Trader Act; and 
•           the Buy Indian Act.
“Accessing capital is paramount for economic development in tribal communities,” said Chairman Barrasso. “This bill will break down existing barriers for growth, support loan and bond guarantee programs, expedite Washington’s slow approval processes, and increase opportunities for tribal members. I am thankful to Senator McCain for working with me on this legislation and hope to see it move forward quickly.”
“Many Indian reservations across my home state of Arizona and the western United States continue to struggle with high unemployment rates and few business opportunities. We must do more to change this,” said Senator McCain. “Our legislation addresses these serious challenges by expanding key economic development services for Native Americans who aspire to open a business on their own on tribal lands. I thank Chairman Barrasso for his partnership on this important effort to ensure the future success of Native American entrepreneurs and tribally owned businesses.”
The specific amendments to existing law within S. 3234, that will promote economic development, include:
The Native American Business Development, Trade Promotion, and Tourism Act of 2000
·         require interagency coordination between the secretaries of Commerce, Interior, and Treasury to develop initiatives encouraging investment in Indian communities;
·         elevate the director for the Indian programs in the Department of Commerce; 
·         make permanent the waiver of the requirement for Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to provide a matching cost share for assistance received by the Treasury CDFI;
·         establish the Indian Economic Development Fund to support the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Indian loan guarantee and CDFI bond guarantee program for Indian communities;
The Native American Programs Act of 1974
·         reauthorize the economic development programs;
·         prioritize economic development program applications and technical assistance for:
o   building tribal court systems and code development for economic development;
o   supporting CDFIs;
o   developing master plans for community and economic development;
The Indian Trader Act
·         add an authorization for the secretary of the Interior to waive, upon tribal request, where an Indian tribe has a tribal law governing trade or commerce on its lands; and
The Buy Indian Act
·         facilitate the use of the Buy Indian Act and increasing accountability in procurement by the BIA and the Indian Health Service.
On May 27, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight field hearing on “Advancing Economic Success in Indian Country.” The hearing was held in Anadarko, OK.
On June 16, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a listening session on the “Buy Indian Act and Community Development Financial Institutions.”
On June 17, 2015, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing on “Accessing Capital in Indian Country.”
On June 22, 2016, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing on “Accessing USDA Rural Development Programs in Native Communities.”