WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young released the following statements praising the unanimous Senate passage of H.R. 228, legislation to strengthen and reform a comprehensive Native employment and training program commonly known as the “477 Program.” The legislation, championed by a united Alaska delegation, marks Young’s second to reach the President’s desk during the 115th Congress.
“The 477 Program has proven to be an innovative and effective tool in providing education and training opportunities aimed to improve the quality of life in every region of Alaska. I am proud the Senate has recognized the importance of this program to support self-sufficiency, create jobs, and expand employment opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives nationwide,” Senator Murkowski said. “I am so pleased Congress has once again recognized the importance of this program and I look forward to it being signed by the President. I am also thrilled that this will be the first Native American bill passed this Congress.”
“The 477 Program has been a great success for over two decades benefitting Alaska Natives and Native Americans throughout the nation,” Senator Sullivan said. “The 477 is a proven example of promoting self-determination while cutting red tape. The 477 program supports lowering the unemployment rate in Alaska, and throughout the nation, by providing workforce development services in some of the most impoverished areas. The 477 program is an example of how the federal government can streamline their processes to better work with those providing services on the ground. I am proud that the Senate passed this legislation; one step closer to expanding and making permanent this model program.”
“After more than 5 years of work developing and advancing this legislation, I’m happy to see it head to the President’s desk to be signed into law,” said Congressman Young. “This would not be possible without the delegation’s dedicated efforts to navigate the bill to final passage. Our legislation is what tribal self-determination is all about – empowering Native communities to craft the best solutions for their unique education and training needs. I commend the 477 Tribal Work Group and the many individual tribes and tribal organizations that have fought tirelessly for these policy improvements over the years. This is Indian country’s victory.”
“The 477 program is one of the best tools that we have available to allow Native communities in Alaska and across the nation to effectively invest in their communities. It allows us to negotiate grants and contracts across all departments, consolidate them into a single plan, program and budget, and then maximize programs that respond best to community need,” said Gloria O’Neill, President and CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council. “This allows us to invest more program dollars directly into the community, so that we can be more creative and work in a much more efficient and productive manner, connecting people to their full potential.”
The Senate-passed H.R. 228, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017, was introduced by Congressman Young and passed in the House on February 27, 2017. Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan both sponsored S.91, a Senate companion bill to H.R. 228. The legislation, which moves to the President’s desk for signature, improves and makes permanent the 477 program, expands the types and sources of funding available, resolves plan approval and appeal processes, and ensures that funds will be transferred and require only one report.
The 477 Program is unique in that it allows federally-recognized tribes and Alaska Native entities to combine formula-funded federal grant funds into a single plan with a single budget and a single reporting system. The legislation allows for implementation of plans for the purpose of economic development, job training, welfare-to-work and tribal work experience, higher education, skill development, facilitation of employment, assisting Indian youth and adults to succeed in the workforce, and encouraging self-sufficiency.
The legislation authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Interior to cooperate with the Attorney General, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Transportation, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs on coordination of federally-funded employment, training, and related services programs.