Udall Announces Senate Passage Of 11 Indian Affairs Committee Bills

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Udall Announces Senate Passage Of 11 Indian Affairs Committee Bills

Eleven bill package includes Udall bills to support Native American language reauthorization, Tribal small business development, Native American veterans housing, and Tribal self-governance.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced unanimous Senate passage of 11 Indian Affairs Committee bills, including two Udall-led bills and two Udall-cosponsored bills.  All 11 bills will now be sent to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

“The 11 bills passed out of the Senate today seek to level the playing field for Tribes and Native communities. As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I’m proud to continue this committee’s long bipartisan tradition of working together to advance policies that promote Tribal sovereignty and Tribal parity,” Udall said.These bills are an important first step toward achieving Indian Country’s priorities during the 116th Congress, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to get each and every one of them across the finish line and signed into law.” 

Udall’s S. 256, the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, and S. 294, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, were included in the package heading over to the House of Representatives. 

The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act will amend existing law to reauthorize two federal Native American language programs at the Administration for Native Americans until 2024, expand eligibility for those programs to smaller-sized Tribal language programs, and allow both programs to offer longer grant periods.

The Native American Business Incubators Program Act will create a competitive grant program in the Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development to establish and maintain business incubators that specialize in assisting Native-owned small businesses to navigate those unique challenges.

“Esther Martinez’s work as a Native language advocate has inspired generations of Native Americans and New Mexicans,” Udall said. “Her legacy stands as a call to action for Congress to continue its support for Native communities that are working to maintain and revitalize their languages. I’m proud to lead this bill named in her honor.”

Udall continued, “Supporting Native small business development will strengthen communities across Indian Country. My Native American Business Incubators Program Act will help jumpstart Tribal economies by filling critical gaps for Native entrepreneurs, who often face unique barriers in access to capital and resources.  It will provide workspace, professional networking opportunities, and access to community expertise – particularly as it applies to doing business on trust lands.”

Two Udall-cosponsored bills were also included among the 11 bills passed by the Senate:

  • S. 209, the Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination (PROGRESS) for Indian Tribes Act, will streamline the Department of the Interior’s self-governance process and provide Indian Tribes with greater flexibility to efficiently tailor, consolidate and administer federal programs for their communities.
  • S. 257, the Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2019, will formally codify a joint Tribal housing initiative between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program to provide rental and housing assistance to homeless veterans in Indian Country.

“For more than 30 years now, Tribal self-governance programs have empowered Native communities and affirmed Tribal sovereignty.  The PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act builds on that success by strengthening Tribes’ ability to exercise self-determination and self-governance of federal Indian programs.  By promoting local control and administration of federal Indian programs and providing clear requirements for negotiating compacts and contracts, Tribes will be better able to customize federal Indian programs to suit their communities’ needs,” Udall said.

“Veterans should never have to worry about having a roof over their heads once they return from service.  The Tribal HUD-VASH Act recognizes the dedication of Native veterans by ensuring that they have equal access to this critical Veterans housing program,” Udall said.

The Senate also passed the following seven bills in its Indian Affairs package.

·         S. 46, the Klamath Tribe Judgment Fund Repeal Act

·         S. 50, the Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act

·         S. 199, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act

·         S. 212, Indian Community Economic Enhancement (ICEE) Act

·         S. 216, Spokane Tribe of Indians of the Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act

·         S. 224, 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. 832, A bill to nullify the Supplemental Treaty Between the United States of America and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of Indians of Middle Oregon, concluded on November 15, 1865.