WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks at a committee hearing to receive testimony on the following bills:
· S. 2785, the Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act of 2016;
· S. 2916, a bill to provide that the Pueblo of Santa Clara may lease for 99 years certain restricted land, and for other purposes; and
· S. 2920, the Tribal Law and Order Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2016.
The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Michael S. Black, director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior; Mr. Tracy Toulou, director of the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice; the Honorable J. Michael Chavarria, governor of the Santa Clara Pueblo; the Honorable Dana Buckles, councilman for the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes; and the Honorable Alfred Urbina, attorney general for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.
Click here for more information on the witnesses’ testimony and to watch video of the entire hearing.
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today the committee will examine three bills: S. 2785, the Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act of 2016; S. 2916, a bill to provide that the Pueblo of Santa Clara may lease for 99 years certain restricted land, and for other purposes; and S. 2920, the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2016.
“On April 12, 2016, Senators Tester and Franken introduced S. 2785, the Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act of 2016.
“This bill seeks to expand tribal criminal jurisdiction over: crimes against children; drug-related crimes; and crimes against law enforcement and court personnel during the exercise of tribal criminal jurisdiction.
“It would also provide funding for tribal substance abuse prevention programs and for building tribal jurisdictional capacity.
“On May 11, 2016, Senator Udall, along with Senator Heinrich, introduced S. 2916, the Pueblo of Santa Clara 99 Year Certain Restricted Land Lease.
“This bill would amend the Long Term Leasing Act to clarify that the Santa Clara and the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblos may lease their restricted fee lands for up to 99 years.
“On May 11, 2016, Senator McCain and I introduced S. 2920, the Tribal Law and Order Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2016.
“In 2010, Congress passed the Tribal Law and Order Act to improve criminal justice and public safety in Indian communities.
“This committee held an oversight hearing on December 2, 2015 and a roundtable on February 25, 2016 regarding next steps to improving public safety in Indian communities.
“Access to data, information sharing, public defense support, juvenile justice, and substance abuse were among the most significant challenges facing the tribes.
“This bill, S.2920, reauthorizes many of the needed programs in the Tribal Law and Order Act.
“It is intended to address some of the more pressing issues that can be passed this Congress.
“Before I turn to the vice chairman, let me say that I am disappointed that the Department of Justice chose not to provide comments on Senate bill 2920. It is hard to believe that the chief law enforcement agency of the federal government did not provide any recommendations or provide comments to this bill.
“I can certainly understand the short timing, we introduced this bill last week, and the department probably wanted more time but to provide nothing is unacceptable.
“I now have to wonder about the commitment from the Department of Justice on Indian programs. Let me remind everyone that it was just last year that the Department of Justice failed to send a single witness to our budget hearing and failed to produce the required annual reports demanded by Congress.
“Starting with this hearing, the members of this committee fully expect the administration, and the Department of Justice in particular, to work diligently and expeditiously with this committee on this and other bills. The tribes and their people deserve nothing less.”