September 13, 2017

Committee Passes Three Bills During Business Meeting

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today announced the committee’s passage of three bills, including legislation for Indian tribes in Virginia and Oregon, as well as for Native American veterans.
The committee advanced S. 1285, the Oregon Tribal Economic Development Act; S. 1333, the Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2017; and H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017.
During the business meeting, Senator Hoeven highlighted what each bill intends to accomplish:
“Senators Merkley and Wyden introduced S. 1285, the Oregon Tribal Economic Development Act, on May 25, 2017. The committee held a legislative hearing on this bill on July 12, 2017. Mr. Tony Dearman from the Department of Interior testified that the Department has no objections to this bill.
“This legislation would clarify that five Indian tribes in Oregon may purchase, sell, lease, or otherwise convey fee land, without further Congressional approval.
“Senators Tester, Udall, Isakson, and I introduced S. 1333, the Tribal HUD-VASH Act. This bill is intended to improve the Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program.   
“The bill would facilitate the recruitment of VA case managers and create a set-aside for rental assistance, and would require the program to be administered in accordance with the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996. It would also mandate the Indian Health Service work cooperatively the HUD or VA in carrying out the program. Finally, it would require a review and report by the agencies to be submitted to the congressional committees of jurisdiction.
“On June 13, 2017 the Committee held a legislative hearing on S. 1333 at which officials from both HUD and VA testified. After the hearing, both agencies submitted technical comments on the bill, which have been incorporated into an amendment to be offered by Senator Tester today.
“Both the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs have provided technical drafting assistance and both Departments are supportive of this legislation.
“The third bill before the Committee is H.R. 984, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017. The Committee considered and favorably reported the Senate version of this bill on May 8, 2017. 
“The committee has considered this matter in prior Congresses as well.  On a prior version of the bill, in the 113th Congress, the Department of the Interior testified before the Committee that it is neutral on the bill.
“The purpose of H.R. 984 is to extend Federal recognition to six tribal groups in Virginia. The legislation would provide each group with a land base to serve as that tribe’s reservation and includes prohibitions on gaming.”