Senate Indian Affairs Committee Advances 11 Bills
Last week, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed eleven bills at its business meeting. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Chairman of the Committee, made remarks after the meeting, praising the committee for its efforts to protect Native American Tribes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These bills will help Indian Tribes across the country to strengthen tribal energy and natural resources, protect sacred and culturally significant items, take land into trust and further improve health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives,” Hoeven said.
The committee passed S. 2165, the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2019, to protect Native American cultural objects. It also passed S. 2610, the Tribal Energy Reauthorization Act, to enable programs under the Department of Energy and the Office of Indian Energy Policy.
Among the bills focused on water rights are S. 3019, the Montana Water Rights Protection Act, sponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.). S. 3044, the Western Tribal Water Infrastructure Act of 2019 sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), was also passed to expand drinking water programs on Tribal lands.
Three bills were passed to protect Native American land: S. 2716, a bill to amend the Grand Ronde Reservation Act; S. 2891, the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019; and S. 2912, the Blackwater Trading Post Land Transfer Act.
To aid Alaska Natives, the committee passed S. 3099, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2019, to transfer property to the consortium in Sitka, Alaska. Additionally, S. 3100, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2019 conveys land in Anchorage, Alaska.
The committee also passed S. 3650, the Coverage for Urban Indian Health Providers Act, extending federal claim coverage to urban Indian employees and organizations by identifying them as part of the Public Health Service. Lastly, it passed S. 3948 to amend the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission, extending the deadline for a report on Native Children.
In his statement, Hoeven noted that with these bills, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has passed 40 total pieces of legislation in this legislative session.
Click here for a video of the business meeting.