WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-MN) introduced a pair of bipartisan bills in the House of Representatives to authorize advance appropriations for essential tribal services funded by the federal government. Providing federal funds for these programs a full year in advance will ensure that the nation can better meet its commitment to uphold trust and treaty responsibilities throughout Indian Country.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) fund many critical public services within tribal nations, including hospitals, schools, law enforcement, child welfare programs, and more. The recent partial government shutdown, which affected IHS and BIA, put the health and safety of tribal communities at risk. Native Americans were disproportionately harmed by the lapse of appropriations because of the breadth of services that experienced a lapse in funding. If advance appropriations were enacted for BIA and IHS, it would provide tribal nations with a stable budget to fulfill the federal trust obligations within those agencies.
The two bipartisan bills introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives ensure advance funding is in place to reduce the significant harm and hardship any future shutdown would cause for Native communities. Congresswoman McCollum’s Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act (IPAAA) authorizes advance appropriations for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, including the Bureau of Indian Education and the Indian Health Service. Congressman Young’s Indian Health Service Advance Appropriations Act of 2019 provides advance appropriations authority for the Indian Health Service. Both bills include advance funding for contract support costs to provide certainty for tribal nations who operate IHS or BIA programs under self-governance contracts and compacts.
Representatives McCollum and Young are joined in the sponsorship of both bills by the bipartisan Co-Chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK, Chickasaw Nation) and Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM, Pueblo of Laguna).
“Alaska Native and American Indian communities have historically been shortchanged when it comes to receiving high-quality health care to meet their unique needs,” said Congressman Young. “The goal of these bills is simple: enable Congress to appropriate funding for the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) one fiscal year in advance. Advance appropriations has already proven to be successful at the VA. Chronic appropriations delays, piecemeal funding bills, and government shutdowns have hampered the ability of IHS, BIA, and BIE to deliver the health care and services our first peoples rely on. It is up to Congress to uphold the federal trust relationship with Native populations across the country, and I encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to cosponsor this important legislation. I appreciate the efforts of my fellow members of the Native American Caucus in support of both bills.”
“During the government shutdown, basic everyday needs like health clinics, tribal justice services, and social services for children, families, and seniors went unfunded, putting Native American communities at risk,” said Representative McCollum. “These programs are critical to life, health, and safety in these communities, and the federal government has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure funding for our trust and treaty responsibilities is not interrupted. Advance appropriations for Indian Country is a promising avenue for making good on our commitments to our Native American brothers and sisters.”
“During the recent partial government shutdown, I was very concerned by the disruption in the federal services extended to tribal nations,” said Congressman Cole. “Considering that these benefits fulfill promises made through numerous trust and treaty obligations, it is unacceptable for Native Americans to suffer due to political disagreements. I am proud to join with colleagues in cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that will protect tribal nations in the future.”
A counterpart to the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act (IPAAA) was introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in the U.S. Senate.