WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today highlighted portions of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill that fund key programs and services for Indian Country.
“Investing in Indian communities is an important aspect of our federal trust responsibility,” Hoeven said. “This funding measure demonstrates the United States’ commitment to honoring this responsibility and the unique relationship that Indian tribes share with the federal government. It includes fiscally responsible increases for tribal programs and key federal agencies that serve Indian Country, and will be a good foundation for the upcoming fiscal year 2018 discussions.”
The bill provides $2.9 billion to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education – an increase of $69 million above fiscal year 2016. These programs support tribal schools, law enforcement, and economic development.
Hoeven noted that the funding measure would also help improve accountability for Indian programs at the Bureaus of Indian Affairs and Education. Most significantly, it requires the Secretary of the Interior to oversee the implementation of recommendations made by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The Indian Health Service is funded at $5.0 billion, an increase of $232 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. This includes operating costs for staffing at newly constructed facilities, and increases for contract support costs, medical inflation, and a growing and aging population. As chairman, Hoeven has made raising the quality and delivery of Indian health care a top priority for the committee.
Included are the following priorities for Indian Country:
The bill provides $30.3 million – an increase of $9.6 million above FY16 enacted level – for the BIA Road Maintenance Program, which enhances and maintains transportation and road safety on tribal lands.
The BIA/BIE Construction Programs account is funded at $192 million, which includes $133.3 million for schools and related facilities within the BIE system.
BIA tribal public safety and justice programs – including tribal courts, law enforcement special initiatives, criminal investigations and police services – are funded at a combined $385.7 million.
The funding measure provides $654 million for the Native American Housing Block Grant – a $4.0 million increase from fiscal year 2016. The Native American Housing Block Grant provides resources for Indian tribes to address homelessness and under-housing in their communities.
The Tribal HUD-VA Supportive Housing (Tribal HUD-VASH) program will be funded at $7.0 million, an increase of $1.1 million from fiscal year 2016. The program provides rental assistance and supportive services to Native American veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and living on or near an Indian reservation or area.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Native American Small Business Outreach program, which provides necessary business development and expansion tools to Native entrepreneurs, is funded at $2.0 million.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund’s Native Initiatives program – focused on advancing tribal economic development and self-determination – is funded at $15.5 million.