WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at a committee oversight hearing titled “The President’s FY 2019 Budget Request for Indian Programs.”
The committee heard testimony from Mr. John Tahsuda, principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior; Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, acting director of the Indian Health Service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Honorable Aaron Payment, vice president of the National Congress of American Indians; and the Honorable Robert McGhee, vice president of the United South and Eastern Tribes.
For complete testimony and video of the hearing click here.
Senator Hoeven’s remarks:
“Good afternoon. I call this hearing to order.
“Today the committee will receive testimony on ‘The President’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for Indian Programs.’
“On February 12th of this year, Congress received the President’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request. This oversight hearing provides an opportunity to receive important feedback on funding requests for Indian programs.
“The President’s budget outlines the Administration’s plan to build a safer and more prosperous nation. As we consider the President’s proposal, we must keep in mind both our nation’s fiscal state, and the federal government’s trust responsibility to Native Americans.
“Last month, the committee held budget briefings with federal agencies and tribal organizations to discuss the President’s budget. From these briefings, two points were clear.
“First, as a nation we have to do a better job of living within our means, and we must use every taxpayer dollar responsibly and effectively.
“Second, we must balance the fiscal state of our nation with the federal government’s trust responsibility to Indian tribes, which includes funding key programs and services for Native communities.
“There were several positive recommendations put forth in the President’s budget. The President’s budget request included modest increases for some critical Indian programs, such as an increase in funds for health care and the repair and renovation of Bureau of Indian Education schools.
“However, there were also proposed cuts to other public safety, education and social services programs.
“As we think through the current state of tribal communities across our nation, we must be mindful of both our national debt and deficit, as well as the needs of tribes. Additionally, we must discuss how we can make more effective and efficient use of federal dollars in Indian Country.
“To that end, today we will hear from two key federal agencies and two tribal organizations regarding the President’s budget request. I want to thank our witnesses for being with us today, and I am looking forward to hearing their testimony.”