Washington, D.C. – Less than two weeks after championing House-passage of legislation to overturn a misguided rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Congressman Don Young is once again advancing legislation – H.R. 228, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017 – through the House and on to the Senate. Young’s legislation, which unanimously passed the House today, empowers tribes and tribal organizations to offer workforce development initiatives across Alaska Native and American Indian communities.
H.R. 228 would amend existing law (P.L. 102-477) to improve and make permanent the Tribal 477 Program – a successful Native workforce development demonstration program established by Congress in 1992. The 477 Program allows tribes to combine employment, childcare, and job training funding from a variety of federal sources and conduct consolidated, comprehensive reporting. In addition, the bill makes improvements to accounting procedures and reporting mechanisms to uphold the original intent of the program, ensure that tribes are treated fairly, and set a foundation for participants continued success.
“Not only does my legislation make the Tribal 477 Program permanent, it works to improve its administration in order to further uplift Native communities across the nation,” Congressman Young said. “The 477 Program has a proven track record of success and allows for commonsense approaches to address the needs in education and training that exist in Indian country. It has allowed participants to develop and run innovative programs that have had a meaningful impact on thousands of Alaska Native and American Indian families. Simply put, this bipartisan legislation is what tribal self-determination is all about.”
Today’s passage of H.R. 228 represents a multi-year effort by stakeholders, working groups and Alaska’s Congressional delegation to permanently authorize the Tribal 477 Program. On December 8, 2016, Young successfully passed legislation similar to H.R. 228 in the House, however, ultimately time ran out to consider that legislation in the final days of the 114th Congress. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, who both worked on this legislation in the 114th Congress, are lead sponsors of companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
Alaska Congressman Don Young Speaking in Favor of H.R. 228 on the House Floor (click here to watch).
“This is a good piece of legislation… It shows that we can work together,” said Congressman Young. “The stakeholders got involved four years ago and wanted to make this [program] permanent. We worked it all out last year and we passed it, but it got bogged down on the other side. This is a chance for us to take programs and put them together with tribes in order to have better efficiency for the dollars we spend. If we do more of that, I believe we’ll have a better Congress and better nation. This is a small minority group of that’s done well under these programs… We’d like to see the fruition of the work by all those involved and put this excellent piece of legislation to the voters on this floor.”
H.R. 228 is supported by the 477 Tribal Work Group, which is comprised of tribes that currently operate 477 plans, as well as many individual tribes around the country. Currently 18 Alaska Native tribes and tribal organizations participate in the Tribal 477 Program, including Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (the first to operate a 477 plan in the nation) and Cook Inlet Tribal Council.