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Legislative and Administrative Update

February 20, 2019

Legislative Update FY 2019 Budget Update: Spending Deal to Avoid Shutdown Signed into Law Eric Miller Re-Nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals S. 47 Introduced S. 336 Introduced S. 445 and H.R. 1151 Introduced S. 467 and H.R. 1191 Introduced H.R. 871 Introduced H.R. 958 Introduced   Hearings SCIA Holds Business Meeting to Consider S. 256, S. 257, S. 294, and Committee Budget Resolution SCIA Holds Listening Session on Native Languages Revitalization HNRC Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Climate Change in Tribal Communities   Upcoming Hearings SCIA to Receive Testimony on Native American Programs Act and ANA House Appropriations to Hold Hearing on FY 2020 Tribal Program Funding   Administrative Update DOI Reschedules Consultations in Alaska USDA Publishes Proposed Rule Regarding SNAP Work Requirement Waivers Army and EPA to Hold Public Meetings to Discuss Proposed Rule for WOTUS  HUD Seeks Comments on Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Regulations NAGPRA Review Committee Seeks Nominations USDA Launches Program to Create High-Speed Internet e-Connectivity
Congressional Update
FY 2019 Budget Update: Spending Deal to Avoid Shutdown Signed into Law   Last week, lawmakers passed the $333 billion, seven-bill appropriations conference report, averting another shutdown. In addition to the Homeland Security bill, the measure includes the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-HUD spending bills. These agencies have operated under a Continuing Resolution (CR) since the end of the 35-day partial government shutdown. Overall, the measure rejects the large cuts proposed by the Administration, adding $54 billion, or 24 percent, to the President’s requests for all of the bills in the package other than Homeland Security.    The bill text is similar to the six-bill package (H.R. 648) the House released and approved in January. The President declared a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border. He is seeking about $6.5 billion more than Congress approved by using executive action.   Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies   Overall, the appropriations package includes a five percent increase for the Indian Health Service compared to the FY 2018 enacted amount. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will be funded at $3.08 billion, a half percent increase.   (Amounts in thousands) FY 2018 Enacted FY 2019 Request Final Bill Bill vs Enacted Bill vs Request Total, BIA and BIE 3,063,642 2,414,260 3,081,132 17,490 668,872 Total, Indian Health Service 5,537,764 5,424,023 5,804,223 266,459 380,200   To view the larger analysis, which includes Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation-HUD, Agriculture, and Financial Services, please click here.    NCAI Contact Info: Amber Ebarb, Budget and Policy Analystaebarb@ncai.org
Re-Nomination of Eric Miller to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Mr. Miller’s re-nomination has been opposed by NCAI and more than 50 tribal nations and organizations. NCAI recently passed a resolution strongly opposing Miller’s nomination. NCAI and the Native American Rights Fund also sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 21, 2018 that examined Mr. Miller’s record on tribal issues. Mr. Miller has sided against tribal interests in a laundry list of cases and has consistently made arguments intended to diminish tribal sovereignty. He has attempted to explain his record by saying that he was simply a lawyer representing his clients and the positions taken do not necessarily reflect his personal views. However, this fails to explain why he took several anti-tribal cases on a pro bono basis, which means he agreed to work on those cases without being paid.   The Ninth Circuit includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. There are 427 federally recognized tribal nations in the Ninth Circuit, more than any other federal court of appeals. Because the Ninth Circuit hears more tribal cases than any other, it is a leader in the field of federal Indian law and it feeds more tribal cases into the Supreme Court than any other circuit court. A nominee like Eric Miller should be strongly opposed by tribal nations and all Native people.   We urge tribal nations to continue to weigh in with their senators and the Senate Judiciary Committee to let them know that Eric Miller should not be confirmed for a lifetime seat on this important court, and that we expect individuals nominated for federal judgeships to respect and uphold tribal rights. NCAI has prepared a sample tribal resolution and a sample tribal letter of opposition for tribal nations to use in their opposition efforts. Please notify NCAI if your tribal nation sends a letter or resolution.    To view the executive business meeting, please click here.   NCAI Contact Info: Virginia Davis, Senior Advisorvdavis@ncai.org
The Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) Introduced   On January 8, 2019, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act.   Section 1119 of the bill, entitled, “Alaska Native Vietnam era Veterans Land Allotment” would allow certain Alaska Native veterans, who served in active military duty status between August 5, 1964 and December 31, 1971 and who meet certain other conditions to apply for an Alaska Native Vietnam Era Veterans Land Allotment. While certain lands are excluded from this provision, the bill would allow for certain public lands to be identified by federal officials, in consultation with the state, regional corporations and village corporations, to be included as eligible lands for such allotments.   NCAI Contact Info: Darren Modzelewski, Policy Counseldmodzelewski@ncai.org
S. 336 Introduced   On February 5, 2019, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced S. 336, a bill to direct the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report on the response of law enforcement agencies to reports of missing or murdered Indians.    The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for consideration.    NCAI Contact Info: Virginia Davis, Senior Advisorvdavis@ncai.org
S. 445  and H.R. 1151 Introduced On February 12, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced  S. 445, a bill to allow veterans to use, possess, or transport medical marijuana and to discuss the use of medical marijuana with a physician of the Department of Veterans Affairs as authorized by a State or Indian Tribe, and for other purposes. S. 445 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The proposed legislation is a  companion bill to H.R. 1151, which was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) on February 12. H.R. 1151 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House Veterans’ Affairs committee. NCAI Contact Info: Nicholas Courtney, Policy Analystncourtney@ncai.org
Native American Suicide Prevention Act (S. 467 and H.R. 1191) Introduced   On February 13, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced S. 467, the Native American Suicide Prevention Act.   The bill is a companion to H.R. 1191, which was introduced by Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) on February 13, 2019.    S. 467 currently has 16 cosponsors and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. H.R. 1191 currently has 15 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.   NCAI Contact Info: Nicholas Courtney, Policy Analystncourtney@ncai.org
Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act (H.R. 871) Introduced   On January 30, 2019, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), in addition to 71 original cosponsors, introduced H.R. 871, the Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty Act.   The legislation seeks to expand the current acreage of the Bears Ears National Monument from 201,876 acres to approximately 1,931,997 acres. This expansion mirrors the “Proposal to President Barack Obama For the Creation of Bears Ears National Monument” made on October 15, 2015 by the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.   To view the Bears Ears National Monument proposal, please click here.   NCAI Contact Info: Darren Modzelewski, Policy Counseldmodzelewski@ncai.org
Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (H.R. 958) Introduced   On February 4, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) introduced H.R. 958, the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act.    The H.R. 958 is a companion bill to S. 290, the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act, that was introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) on January 31, 2019.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, the Committee on Education and Labor, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce.    NCAI Contact Info: Virginia Davis, Senior Advisorvdavis@ncai.org
Hearings
SCIA Holds Business Meeting to Consider S. 256, S. 257, S. 294, and Committee Budget Resolution On Wednesday, February 6, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a business meeting to consider S. 256, the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act; S. 257, the Tribal HUD-VASH Act of 2019; S. 294, the Native American Business Incubators Program Act; and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Budget Resolution for the 116th Congress.    Each of the bills passed the Senate last Congress, and the Committee ordered S. 256, S. 257, and S. 294 to be reported without amendment favorably. They are now awaiting full Senate consideration.    For more information and to view a recording of the meeting, please click here.    NCAI Contact Info: Jacob Schellinger, Director of Government Affairs, jschellinger@ncai.org
SCIA Holds Listening Session on Native Languages Revitalization On Wednesday, February 13, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a listening session on identifying Indian Country’s Native languages revitalization priorities.    For more information, please click here.    NCAI Contact Info: Nicholas Courtney, Policy Analyst,  ncourtney@ncai.org
House Natural Resources Subcommittee  Holds Hearing on Climate Change in Tribal Communities   On February 12, 2019, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States held a hearing on the “Impacts of Climate Change on Tribal Communities.”   Witnesses included Mr. Verlon Jose, Vice-Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation; Mr. Tyson Johnston, Vice President of the Quinault Indian Nation; Ms. Jennine Jordan, Government Relations Liaison of the Calista Corporation of Alaska; and Dr. Shirley Buzzard, President of the Building Resilient Communities for Climate Extremes Institute.   For video and written testimony, please click here.
NCAI Contact Info: Darren Modzelewski, Policy Counseldmodzelewski@ncai.org
Upcoming Hearings
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Oversight Hearing on the “45th Anniversary of the Native American Programs Act and the establishment of the Administration for Native Americans.”
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
2:30 p.m. EST
Dirksen 628
 House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Committee Hearing on FY2020 Appropriations for Tribal Programs
Thursday, March 7, 2019
TBD
Administration Update
The Department of the Interior Reschedules Consultations in Alaska   In January, the Department of the Interior (DOI) postponed the two remaining consultations in its review of the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act (Alaska IRA) and the Alaska land-into trust process because of the federal government shutdown. The initial consultations were scheduled to occur on January 16 and January 17 in Bethel and Kotzebue, AK.   According to its most recent February 4, 2019 Dear Tribal Leader Letter, the final two consultations will now occur on March 5 and March 7 at the following locations:   Alaska IRA Tribal Consultation Tuesday, March 5, 2019 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center 420 Chief Eddie Highway Bethel, AK  99559 Land-into-Trust in Alaska Tribal
Consultation Tuesday, March 5, 2019 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center 420 Chief Eddie Highway Bethel, AK  99559 Alaska IRA Tribal Consultation Thursday, March 7, 2019 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Northwest Arctic Heritage Center 171 Third Avenue Kotzebue, AK  99752 Land-into-Trust in Alaska Tribal Consultation Thursday, March 7, 2019 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Northwest Arctic Heritage Center 171 Third Avenue Kotzebue, AK  99752   Comment Deadline Extended   In addition, the comment deadline to respond to these consultations is extended from January 25, 2019 to March 15, 2019. Comments may be submitted to consultation@bia.gov.    NCAI, along with the Native American Rights Fund, a number of tribal nations and tribal organizations submitted comments on January 25, 2019.    For more information, please visit DOI’s Office of Regulatory Affairs’ website.   NCAI Contact Info: Derrick Beetso, General Counsel, dbeetso@ncai.org
USDA Publishes Proposed Rule Regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents Comments Due April 2, 2019   The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a proposed rule that modifies standards for waivers that allow able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for more than three months in a 36-month period regardless of their work status. The proposed rule encourages broader application of the statutory ABAWD work requirements.    FNS also proposes ending unlimited carryover of ABAWD exemptions, which can be used by states to extend SNAP eligibility of ABAWDs subject to the time limit as provided by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. The proposed rule would limit the number of exemptions available to states each year.    Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or may be mailed to Certification Policy Branch, Program Development Division, FNS, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302. 
To view the proposed rule, please click here.  

NCAI Contact Info: Ashleigh Fixico, Wilma Mankiller Policy Fellow, afixico@ncai.org
Army and EPA to Hold Public Meetings to Discuss Proposed Rule for the Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States” Comments Due April 15, 2019   On December 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) signed the proposed “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States'” (WOTUS) rule and have scheduled opportunities for tribal nations to engage with the agencies regarding the proposed WOTUS rule through discussion forums and webcasts.    The agencies have also scheduled discussion forums for tribal leaders on the proposed revised WOTUS rule during the anticipated comment period. The scheduled discussions have three primary purposes: (1) to present the proposed revised definition of “waters of the United States” and address clarifying questions from co-regulators; (2) to hear initial feedback on the proposal from co-regulators; and (3) to allow robust discussion of implementation considerations and the potential for mapping “waters of the United States.”   Three half-day discussion forums for tribal leaders and tribal representatives will be held at the following locations:   Location Date For more information Kansas City, Kansas February 27, 2019 Additional Information, please click here.  Atlanta, Georgia March 12, 2019 TBD Albuquerque, New Mexico March 27, 2019 TBD   Tribal leaders and tribal representatives interested in attending one of the discussion forums should send an email indicating their interest to wotus-outreach@epa.gov.   The EPA and Army will consult with individual tribal nations upon request. Tribal leaders may request consultation with the agencies on the proposed rule by contacting cwawotus@epa.gov.   If tribal leaders have any other questions, please contact Rose Kwok at  kwok.rose@epa.gov or Cindy Barger at cindy.s.barger.civ@mail.mil.   For more information and to view the proposed rule, please click here.    To view the Dear Tribal Leader letter, please click here.    To submit comments, please click here.    NCAI Contact Info: Darren Modzelewski, Policy Counseldmodzelewski@ncai.org 
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Seeks Comments on Draft Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Regulations   On November 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a Dear Tribal Leader letter seeking tribal input on the regulations for the Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee program.   HUD is currently revising the regulations for the Section 184 program and seeks comments on draft Subpart B and draft Subpart C. Once HUD has drafted the complete set of proposed regulations, they will send another copy of the draft proposed rule to tribal nations for comment via a “Dear Tribal Leader letter” with a 60-day comment period. Once this tribal comment period is over and any comments received are considered, HUD will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public comment.

Last modified: February 20, 2019