WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), passed the following eight bills at its business meeting:
· S. 1928, Native Educator Support and Training Act (NEST Act), a bill to support the education of Indian children;
· S. 2205, a bill to establish a grant program to assist tribal governments in establishing tribal healing to wellness courts, and for other purposes;
· S. 2304, a bill to provide for tribal demonstration projects for the integration of early childhood development, education – including Native language and culture – and related services, for evaluation of those demonstration projects, and for other purposes;
· S. 2421, a bill to provide for the conveyance of certain property to the Tanana Tribal Council located in Tanana, Alaska, and to the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation located in Dillingham, Alaska, and for other purposes;
· S. 2468, the Safe Academic Facilities and Environments for Tribal Youth Act (SAFETY Act), a bill to require the secretary of the Interior to carry out a 5-year demonstration program to provide grants to eligible Indian tribes for the construction of tribal schools, and for other purposes;
· S. 2564, a bill to modernize prior legislation relating to Diné College;
· S. 2643, a bill to improve the implementation of the settlement agreement reached between the Pueblo de Cochiti of New Mexico and the Corps of Engineers, and for other purposes; and
· S. 2717, the Dam Repairs and Improvements for Tribes Act of 2016 (DRIFT Act), a bill to improve the safety and address the deferred maintenance needs of Indian dams to prevent flooding on Indian reservations, and for other purposes.
During the business meeting, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the SCIA, highlighted what each piece of legislation intended to accomplish.
“Four of the bills: S. 1928, S. 2304, S. 2468, and S. 2564 are education related,” said Chairman Barrasso. “Education is a vital role for advancing progress in all tribal communities. These bills would provide necessary tools for administrators and students to succeed.
“S. 2205, is a bill introduced by Senators Tester and Franken. It would authorize grants for tribal healing to wellness courts to reduce recidivism among tribal members.
“Senators Murkowski and Sullivan introduced S. 2421. This bill would direct the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to convey certain properties to the Tanana Tribal Council and the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation.
“On March 7, Senator Udall, with cosponsor Senator Heinrich, introduced S. 2643, the Pueblo de Cochiti Self-Governance Act. This bill would transfer responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the dam drainage system from the secretary of the Interior to the Pueblo.
“Finally, the committee will markup S. 2717, the DRIFT Act, a bill I sponsored along with Senator McCain. The DRIFT Act would provide the necessary resources to protect the safety of dams throughout Indian Country.”
Click here to watch the entire business meeting in full.